What’s the Message You’re Sending Your Child Today?

Last weekend- Memorial Day weekend- was the kick off of this year’s ‘Ticket or Click It” campaign.

A few days ago I was walking down the end of my driveway- walking my dogs. We were behind a large bush in our neighbor’s yard. My son pulled into our driveway. For some reason my eyes went to his shoulder to see if his seatbelt was on.

My son is soon to be 25. What had I done to instill in him the value of seatbelts? Well, ever since he can remember, I have worn mine. He (and his sister) was always in an age or size appropriate child car seat. Everyone who rode with me wore seatbelts. When he started driving I always told him if ever I saw him or anyone in any car of mine without a seatbelt- he would lose his driving PRIVILEGE and he would have to pay his own insurance.

My kids have never seen me drive drunk or even under the influence. Never saw me use drugs.

They never saw me indulge in food as a crutch or release.

They did see me struggle to kick cigarettes- heard me curse them, curse their addictiveness. Did see me finally win the battle.

They have always seen me work hard and put in long hours.

So what does all this mean?

My kids work hard and have a great work ethic. I have never seen them drink- never seen their friends drink. Neither of my kids smoke nor do their friends. And yes when he pulled into our driveway, my son was wearing his seatbelt.

One company I used to work for had a CEO. He had a one page list of things that were the guiding principles he used to run our multi-billion dollar company. At the top of his list, of every important thing that could have topped the list, was one word, repeated three times: “Communicate, communicate, communicate.”

In his mind and estimation nothing counted as much or led to success as much as communication, open and honest. He went on to say that he held this same belief in his personal life as well. That communication was at the top of his list in his marriage and in the way that he and his wife raised their children.

While communication is very much about the words we speak, it is about how we speak them and it is also about what we do- the examples we are each and every day. Had I only asked my kids to wear their seatbelts and did not lead by example- I truly doubt my kids would wear theirs today. Had I ever been seen driving while drunk- could I later chastise them for doing the same? Communication is also what their peers say or teachers or other adults. It’s what we see on TV and in movies. Sometimes our communication is in competition with others- especially as our kids enter the teenage years.

Don’t get me wrong- I/we made plenty of mistakes raising our children. Everything we did was seen and evaluated. Everything we said was heard and tested. Everything we did- how we lived- shaped who our kids would become- who they did become.

To the best of your ability- live the life you want for your kids. Wear your seatbelt, exercise, don’t drink and drive or text and drive. Don’t pour lighter fluid on a lit fire and practice acceptance and not prejudice. And remember that communication is everything- influences everything- is not just talking- it’s also watching and listening. It’s good business and good for any relationship- great for our kids.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

About the Author

Jim is a transportation safety expert with more than 40 years in both the emergency medical services and the school bus industries. Jim is a former member of the PedSafe Expert team and is proud to have been one of the original contributors to PediatricSafety.net more than 13 years ago.


One Response to “What’s the Message You’re Sending Your Child Today?”

  1. It also helps that my car beeps incessantly every thirty seconds if I forget to put it on 🙂

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