Children are to be seen and not heard!  How many times have I heard that phrase?  It was the environment in which I grew up.  To me, what is the point of having children if they’re not to be heard and only to be seen?

Have you ever sat and had conversation with an 8 year old whose fascinated by Pokémon cards and having him tell you with pure enthusiasm why “peekachu” is better than any other pokeman or a conversation with your 13 year old trying to explain why since having received her phone seven months ago the data plan has been insufficient and how it really isn’t her fault or the 15 year old’s perspective on the importance or non importance of a particular book or article or homework assignment.

In three short years my oldest will be off to college and in a decade my wife and I will be “empty nesters.”  The last thing that I want is not to hear what my children have to say and to only see them.  The trick is to educate.  As parents it’s our responsibility to provide direction, instruction and to think what you want your children to be like when they become parents and adults.  Why do parents only want to see their children and not hear them?  Is it because they don’t want to hear what they have to say or because maybe the children are potentially uncontrollable in adult settings. Whose fault is that?  Is it because the child simply can’t behave themselves, maybe, or is it more than likely that the parents haven’t taken the time to teach the child how to appropriately behave.

From an early age, my wife and I felt it important to have the children out to dinner at restaurants and incorporate them into adult environments and although the first couple of goes were somewhat “ugly” without these experiences they would never have learned how to behave appropriately.  Plus, what are you saying when you don’t take the time to say what is and is not acceptable in these situations.  Kids, despite what they may say, watch everything we do and want to learn.  There have been times where my wife and I wanted to teach with a big stick (of course we didn’t) but now at the ages of 15, 13 and 8 it is an absolute pleasure to walk into a restaurant with everyone dressed up and watch how the handle themselves.  No devices, no phones, no Nintendo DSs, no Kindles but instead actual conversation.  Talking to one another, looking each other in the eye, saying please and thank you to those serving and finding out whats going on inside the minds of my children to me is the fruit of teaching labor.  So, the next time you think you don’t want to hear your children talking, I suggest you have a conversation with an 8 year old about his Pokémon cards and see what true joy is.  My only regret is that I haven’t been able to figure out how to bottle, market and sell his enthusiasm.  If I could I’d be retired tomorrow because it is priceless.