Parents sometimes need to be reminded that little pitchers
have big ears. Everything we say is heard and stored in
children’s memory. There are many things we want stored and
eventually acted on. There are many other things we are
surprised that children heard us say that we wish they did not
hear. I want to discuss two of these: attitude toward work and
Parents who take pride in their work and enjoy it talk
positively about the experience. These are usually the parents
who have jobs where they are recognized and encouraged for their
contributions. There are other parents who do not have this
experience and need to exercise caution when talking about their
jobs around their children.
As one mother put it she used to enjoy her job because her
expertise was recognized and acknowledged. Then the impersonal
computers came along and she was assigned tasks on a rotating
basis according to what the computer indicated needed to be done
next. She no longer felt recognized for her unique contribution
and began to slack off. This mother needs to be careful.
If she begins to complain in front of the children and say
sentences like: “Why should I work hard if nobody cares or
notices but me? ” Or, “They don’t pay me enough to do a good
job.” “Nobody else works.” “All the bosses do all day is drink
coffee.” “Why should I bother if they don’t notice.” then
children get the message that work is something to avoid, not
something to enjoy. This attitude can have a devastating effect
on their future happiness. Everybody eventually needs to work at
something. The greatest gift a parent can give a child is to
help him to find the kind of work he enjoys. He may have bad
bosses, maybe not enough recognition, but he will be able to put
these things in perspective and deal with them if he truly loves
what he is doing.
This is not an easy task for parents to accomplish because
children not only have big ears, they are observant. They come
in contact with many adults who are minimalists as far as their
jobs are concerned. Minimalists do not like their jobs. They
refuse to give of their talents. They arrive with the bell and
leave with the bell. They take the full quota of sick days. As
one minimalist stated it, “I put in my seven hours, collect my
pay check, and do as little as possible.” Minimalists are found
in all fields of work. They are unhappy, unfulfilled people.
Parents need to help their children so that they will find
satisfaction in their future work. The first step is for
parents not to talk like minimalists.
The second step is for parents not to use poor grammar when
speaking. In these times, being able to communicate and to speak
effectively is as important a skill as being able to read with
comprehension. Many children use poor grammar because they never
hear correct speech. As a result, they may fail to get a coveted
job, not because they lack the skills, but because their
grammar is so poor that they give an impression of ignorance
This is a hard one to counteract because poor grammar is so
prevalent in today’s world and on television sitcoms. Do not
correct your child while he is speaking. Rather, say the same
sentences correctly later so his ear becomes attuned to how the
sentences should sound. Since correct grammar is an auditory
skill, the more the child hears it correctly the more he will be
able to self-correct.
Many of the things children learn are caught and not taught.
Parents need to exercise caution when they speak in front of
children. Children need to hear messages which will improve
their lives, not the other way around.