A Parental Game of Chess
by Valerie Zilinsky
On a recent winter day, our son came home from school proclaiming a new-found love of the game of Chess. We were pleasantly surprised, as my husband has been trying to persuade him to try it for six years now. It seems that all it took was the knowledge that his classmates liked to play, and all of a sudden, he has dreams of being a master of the game.
As a parent, we encounter this over and over throughout our children's' lives. We try to be the role model, setting a good example, leading them in the direction we'd like them to go. But our little darlings usually have other plans. And that usually consists of whatever their peers are doing at the moment.
When the new behavior is a positive thing, like playing a game of Chess, we can enjoy watching our children pursue the new hobby. But, we must always be on alert for the other habits that come from outside influences.
For example, another recent habit that my son came home from school with is a heavy dose of sarcasm. He isn't getting it from someone in our home, so it's safe to assume that someone in his class might be giving lessons during recess. If I have my way, whoever it is will soon have one less student to teach.
No matter how frustrating it gets to watch our children model themselves after their friends instead of their parents, we will continue to set a good example for them.
For our son, that means discouraging the sassy "know it all" attitude, and repeatedly reminding him how to talk with respect and kindness to all.
But it also means many games of chess accompanied by good conversation. It doesn't matter who wins or loses. Either way, we still win - it's time that we know our son is doing something that we approve of, while safe at home, spending quality time together as a family.
Peers will always teach our kids both good and bad. But the ultimate responsibility lies with us at home, with parents helping children to recognize which habits are worth keeping, and those that should be put into a permanent "checkmate".
A parent-child relationship is quite like a game of Chess, actually. We are always watching each other to see what the next move will be. Our children learn from the moves that we choose. And when we see our children take a move, we are always looking ahead, trying to predict any possible outcomes before they occur. It's just hard to keep track of who's move it is!
Valerie Zilinsky of Michigan is a mother of four...... two children, the family dog, and her biggest kid of all - her husband. She is also the proud co-owner of both
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