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Cheryl's World

MY TRUTH: Parents, you need a time out!

I now know who the culprit is and it is Y-O-U!

Now full disclosure, I didn’t just find out about you because I have had my suspicions all along.

Then the truth hit me like a ton of bricks as my students revealed to me the bane of my existence. Although I’ve heard similar sentiments, I didnt’ want to believe that parents were leading their children astray.

I’ve often said that I can’t tolerate disrespect from these young children/teens/young adults — whatever you’d like to call them. I was brought up to not be disrespectful and I expected to be afforded the same.

I also didn’t feel comfortable blaming the young, as I have heard done so often because I have contended that these rude, self-absorbed children were left to their own devices too often and they are, after all, our children. They weren’t airlifted to planet Earth by someone who was trying to get rid of bad-ass kids.

No, these are our children and while I don’t condone violence; I do believe in speaking a universal language that is quick to translate.

Equally disturbing was the brainwashing that my students told me about.

“My parents said that if someone who had no business doing so said something disrespectful to me, no matter how old they are, I can fire back at them,” said one student proudly.

Other students nodded their heads approvingly and echoed those sentiments. They had been told the same thing in varying forms, like, “we’re all God’s children,” “no one is better,” and “you get what you give!”

Clearly I was in the minority in this class.

But I stood my ground (gosh it pains me to even use that phrase, just like I haven’t had a Skittle since that fateful day in Florida a decade ago when Trayvon Martin was murdered — but I digress!)

Which brings me to my truth.

There’s only one me. In order for me to be the best I can be, who I am can absolutely not be based on how people treat me.

Over the years and decades, I’ve run into so many people — some good and some bad, some misguided and some downright dirty.

I hope I took the best that each person I encountered had to offer and left the rest behind because life is too short to carry around some of the baggage that others are carrying or worse, they leave with you.

I told my children that there’s a place for adults and a place for children. “If someone says something out of whack or inappropriate and disrespectful, come and tell me and in the words of Biggie Smalls, ‘I got you!’”

That’s right. I will always have their back when they are doing the right thing. We will work through the not so right things but a teenager stepping to a 40-year-old is a situation we could do without and is totally wrong.

In contrast, I will tell the adult (depending on who they are), if my child does something inappropriate, they can check them and then call me and I will check them again.

Now everyone is not afforded that pass.

There are some people who had better not think about disciplining anybody remotely connected to me. Instead, call me, and I will come running!

And when I get there, I am expecting to have to deal with one bad act — the adult.

Parents will have more to deal with if they have their children thinking the field is level when getting into some- thing with an adult.

Sure we can tell the child about how we all have the same blood, etc. but we could send a better message than putting them in a situation where they most likely are out-matched.

Instead talk to our young about reacting versus acting.

Tell them the African proverb: “A man who pays respect to the great paves his own way for greatness.”

One philosopher said, “Self-respect is the corner-stone of all virtue.”

Don’t let someone else dictate who you are and how you act.

Try authenticity.

Can you be authentic?

Or are you a person who changes like the weather?

A central African proverb says, “A youth that does not cultivate friendship with the elderly is like a tree without roots.”

And sadly, if you live long enough you will become elderly, then what will be your expectations?

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