before you tell your child not to be upset or cry,
understand your own discomfort with strong emotions
and tears

before you command your child not to touch,
determine how you will help him satisfy his innate curiosity
and honor his intense drive to explore his environment

before you try to teach your child to share,
expand and deepen your own generosity of spirit

before you fault your child for not listening,
ensure that what you are speaking is worth hearing

before you lecture your child not to be selfish,
analyze your motives for doing so (chances are
you'll find some degree of self-interest among them)

before you chastise your child for not telling the truth,
cultivate the ability to acknowledge and accept things
you don't want to hear

before you accuse your child of cheating or stealing,
take a good look at the corners you feel justified in
cutting because no one will notice. if you can't think
of any offhand, you might start with your tax return
and the speed limit

before you demand respect,
check to see if you've been giving it -- including
to your child, your spouse, your waitress, your employer,
and the driver of that car moving too slow in the fast lane

before you discipline your child for picking on other kids,
take inventory of your own desire for power and control

before you admonish your child to make better choices,
fully infuse your own decisions with wisdom, maturity,
and compassion

before you drill into your child that education is important,
determine how you are modeling the joy and value of learning
in your own daily life

before you send your child outside for fresh air and exercise,
see if you can even remember the last time you stepped outdoors
just for the pleasure of it
before you inform your child about 'the way things work in this world',
realize that you are imposing your limited perspective on an
impressionable mind, and decide whether you want to sentence
this child to live within that world until he can create his own

before you tell your teen to be more responsible,
assess how you currently allocate your own time and energy

before you order your teenager to straighten up and fly right,
scrutinize your own vices and clarify your own path

the wise parent leads primarily by example

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Kate said...

Fantastic and thought(heart)-provoking post Karen! Thank you for this! love,

Sandi said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! What a lovely thought for a Monday. I don't have kids, but I think it applies in so many other ways, too.

karen alonge said...

thanks, you guys! so glad you enjoyed it.

sandi, after I posted it on my parenting site I realized it might have a broader application and decided to post here too. I'm gratified that you agree!! :)