What Are We Teaching Our Children? | submitted by Torrey Jaeckle

My daughter has been watching me. Shave, that is. She loves to watch me shave in the morning, and frequently requests some of my extra accessories so she can “shave” along with me. Thus was the impetus for my purchase of a five dollar child shaving kit for Christmas for her this year.

We’ve shaved together three times now since Christmas, and this morning I was noticing she was doing everything exactly as I was. When I shaved with the grain, she shaved with the grain. When I shaved against the grain, she shaved against the grain. When I rinsed my razor, she rinsed her razor. You get the picture.

But it dawned on me — What else is my three year old watching me do, and learning behavior from? Does she watch me as I struggle to hang a picture and grumble under my breath as I slam the hammer down? Does she watch me as I cuss at my computer because I can’t get a program to work? And does she watch me as I complain about the incompetent driver ahead of me on the road?

The truth is, she is watching all these things, and more.

And she is learning from it. Which raises the question: With all the political turmoil over the past year, what have our children seen, and what have they learned with regards to solving social ills?

The fact is, we currently have it within our power to solve most of our societal problems. But we increasingly choose to defer responsibility and rely on government to provide the solution instead. The problem with that is twofold.

First, history has shown that government is not an efficient or capable institution for solving major social problems. Private charities, where the providers are much more in tune with the local community, and where the recipients are much more accountable to their providers, are a much more efficient mechanism for providing lasting long-term relief to those in need.

Second, when we abdicate our responsibility to help our neighbors to the government, what is that telling our children? Remember, they are watching. Everything. I’m concerned about any message that essentially tells children to rely on others to solve our most pressing problems. And that is exactly what we do when we fail to take action ourselves, let liberty yield, and wait for government to take over.

You may desire more affordable and available health care for your fellow man. But when is the last time your child witnessed you donating time or money to one of the many private charities that provides just that, rather than simply petitioning the government for universal coverage? You may desire more jobs and higher wages for those out of work or having difficulty making ends meet. But when is the last time your child witnessed you take a risk at starting a business, or over-tipping an excellent waitress, rather than simply writing your legislators to increase the minimum wage.

And you may want a better education for our nation’s children. But when was the last time your child witnessed you hands-on helping out in their classroom, rather than simply requesting that the government throw more money at the problem?

In short, are you a “doer” or a “petitioner”?

Because clearly the world needs more of the former and less of the latter.

I am not making accusations here, nor pointing fingers — for I would be the first one I would need to indict. What I am trying to point out is that, first, because of our liberty we have it within our power to solve a lot of our problems without the need for government involvement, and that, second, we are sending the wrong message to our children when they witness more forfeiture of liberty and offloading of problems to government than actual direct action on our part to solve those problems ourselves. And liberty — once forfeited — is often lost forever.

That’s my New Year’s Resolution this year — to make sure my children witness responsibility and true compassion in our home, rather than passing of the buck and forfeiture of liberty.

I urge you to ask yourself this question: “What will my children witness in my home this year?” The answer is immensely important. Because I guarantee you — they are watching and learning.

Sign up for the free IB Update — your weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices and the names you need to know. Click here.