It’s hard being a parent, isn’t it? There are so many ways in which you can affect how your child grows and matures. Everything from your behaviour, to which activities you choose for them. It all contributes to the final product, your child.

But how do you protect them from the rest of the world? Of course, you can’t. All you can do is give them the tools to judge for themselves, what is right and what is wrong. Luckily my kids seem to be able to make these judgements already, even at only 5 and 7 years old.

My children often come home with stories from school, stories from other children. Stories about how they spend time with their families, and what they do. Or quite often, don’t do. But, recently, some of the stories have left my mouth hanging open. Of course, these stories come from the badly behaved children at school, and you are left thinking, no wonder.

I won’t quote every story, but it is the most recent one that has really made me think. My 5-year-old daughter came back from kindergarten and told us that a boy in her class had tried smoking. Yes, smoking, at 5! He must have stolen one of his parents’ cigarettes, he’d probably watched them smoking and learned how to do it. No, his father had let him try one. His father had put a filthy cigarette into his child’s mouth! Honestly I’m going to run out of exclamation marks writing this.

In the past, this was the classic tactic to stop your child smoking. Make them feel sick and they will hate it. But that was the past, and normally with children of teenage years. In this case it seems like it was just a funny thing to do, watch the child try to smoke, how amusing. My blood is boiling now, just thinking about it.

Luckily, my daughter told us this story while shaking her head. She knows this is stupid behaviour, and my son too. But I don’t want to spend my life telling them that their friends’ parents are stupid. So come on people, please grow up. You need to do it first, so then your children can.

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

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