Monday, August 23, 2010

Messages we give kids

*disclaimer: Luke and Anna are playing...he knows how to get out of the crate,
 indeed he was the one that put them both in there with water, snacks and a bed...

Messages, we get them daily. We send them daily.  We either get them or we don't.  Do we actually think about them?  I mean really think about the message, the intent and the actual outcome?

Two stories come to mind today that really bring this home, and I mean right where you live home.

1: Ad posted on-line: please come get our mama cat and her two day old kittens or my boyfriend will kill them.

Follow up: a good, dear friend who is also an animal rescue friend, went to get them.  A child, around 10, told her, "Thank you for taking our kitties, I was so sad that they were going to get killed.  I'm happy they get to live and have a good home."

Questions: what sort of lesson is this young girl learning about why things get killed (someone doesn't want or value them anymore) and about caring for those around us (kill it if you cannot give it away).  what sort of lesson is she learning about being responsible for not only herself but for those animals?  What sort of value does her mother's boyfriend have for her?  Is she as expendable as a mama cat and kittens?  

2.  Woman at a dog park with her children, they are playing rough with their dogs, but the woman is 'proud' that her kids can kick the dog, pull its tail and poke it in the eye.  "See it doesn't even mind if you throw it down!" she states proudly.

Follow up: a friend, who works with dogs and other animals, is concerned. She asks why this woman is proud of her children's bad behaviour. Then she asks what happens if the dog finally has 'enough' and snaps?  Of course the dog will be gone because it broke the biggest rule of all - do not do unto others.  The dog will die, they will get another, and the cycle will start all over again.

Questions: what sort of lessons about respect, caring for others and physical safety are those kids learning?  Are they learning that dogs CHOOSE not to bite us?  Are they learning they are responsible for their animals?  Are they learning that causing hurt is wrong?  Are they being taught to treat others as they would like to be treated?

3.  A neighborhood watches as yet another dog dies of neglect in a yard. The neighbors are not unaware of what is going on, they talk about it, they know who is doing this and it isn't the first dog.  Won't be the last.  No one is sure what to do, so they say nothing, hoping that someone comes up with a miracle, life saving plan.

Follow up: the owner gets pressured to take the dog to the vet, refuses help and no one knows what happened to the dog.  No one knows when the next dog will come to that yard.  Everyone knows what will happen to it.  The families who talk about it, know about it and stay quiet are teaching their children not to get involved. They are teaching their children to be silent in the face of abuse.

Questions: Would they be silent if it was a child being abused? What about an elderly person?  Would they stay silent if they knew they were teaching their children to be quiet in the face of abuse?  What if it was them being abused, would they want someone to speak up for them?

Three tough situations - varying degrees of lessons being taught.  What would you do?  What would you say? Would you speak up or remain silent?

What lessons are you teaching your children? What lessons do you see being taught that you remain silent about?

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