This morning’s treadmil conversation at the gym was livelier than usual. I announced that I just had to blog about the growing epidemic of bad behavior…of adults… public figure adults’ bad behavior.
Whether or not my gym rat buddies felt Serena’s tongue fault was forgiveable (It was, they thought–it was her first outburst; it was a lousy call; it was a genuine mistake), whether Joe Wilson had the right to call President Obama a liar (He did not, they agreed), or whether Kanye West’s bullyish interruption would be okay ever, under any circumstance (Never!)…everyone agreed that all three were blatant examples of grown ups’ bad behavior.
Something is terribly wrong. Here is a case of three adults who have not cultivated necessary impulse control. They were rude, disrespectful, and did not use plain old fashioned manners. Protocol and propriety are real, but they followed neither. And while I am sure there are daily examples of the same affliction in adults everywhere, they are not in our faces. The culprits are not public figures. These are people whom our children watch, models of how to be in the world.
Children learn the rules of the road and what is acceptable behavior, first of all from their parents. You are the first teachers of social intelligence. You are the voice they internalize that says, “Better not say that. It’s rude. It’s disrespectful. ”
It’s not enough to shake your head in disgust. Here is your chance, three of them actually. They are perfect examples of what is not okay, clear examples of disrespect, obvious examples of crossing the line. And it wasn’t even your child who did it! Here is fodder for dinner table conversation to be sure. You have a perfect chance to grow your children’s social intelligence. Have that discussion about what happened, about what you think. Create the spin your children need to hear. It will make a difference, and it will help your child to process the things that other people do, good and bad.
How interesting it was to witness Kanye’s moment of reflection. We saw it when Jay Leno asked him what his mother would have said about his bad behavior. He was dead silent. You see, it was his mother’s voice that seemed to speak to him . (Ok, maybe it was a show!). But you get my point. Be that voice that speaks to your child, “Don’t be disrespectful to the line judge!” Don’t insult the President!” “Don’t butt in to someone else’s show!” It is the voice that your child will carry with him forever, whether he becomes a public figure or not.