Everyone seems to be up in arms about the incident at the Cincinnati zoo, the gorilla incident. As a parent, I can tell you that it’s easy to blame the mother for what happened. That’s what people do: jump to conclusions. As a victim of a successful smear campaign myself, I know that people will believe what they are told by those they consider a “credible” source. All it takes is for someone to tell their side without the person present ( this is a cowardly way to get people to take sides ), and then the victim is placed on the defensive and therefore is “guilty” by default. Keep in mind that the child in question is only about 3 or 4, not exactly mature enough to be responsible for his impulsiveness.
Having said this, how do you raise responsible kids? You teach by example. Kids watch everything, and I do mean everything that their parents do. Don’t kid yourselves, your kids will do exactly what you model for them. If you model lying, they will lie. If you model recklessness, they will be reckless. If you model gossiping, they will gossip. If you model irresponsibility and selfishness. Guess what? They will do it too. If you model negativity, they’ll be negative.
The same holds true for: disrespect, conflict, immaturity, a lack of self control, anger issues, self-centered and self-absorbed tendencies, laziness, a lack of direction, arrogance, disloyalty, impulsiveness, lack of character and lack of integrity issues. They all will be modeled. That’s a tough pill to swallow for some people, but you do live what you learn. And, worse it gets passed down generation to generation. Many times going from bad to worse depending on who’s validating the behavior. Only what is validated will continue, then it becomes justified. Yes, your kids will mirror you. But, that’s only half of the story.
They also model positive things as well. You are a role model, and should act like one. Small children are in the process of learning. The child obvious didn’t know what kind of danger he was in. When my kids were small, it was my job ( still is now that they’re older ) to keep them safe. Surprise, surprise, they still got hurt anyway. I’ve dealt with stitches, casts, sprains, bumps on heads, you name it. Does that make me a bad parent? No, it just makes them kids. Accidents happen, even major ones like the boy in the gorilla cage. By the way, the same thing happened in England a few years ago. Another little boy, he was knocked conscious. Same scenario, different ending. Little boys are a handful.
If you want to have responsible kids, model responsible behavior. Parents are supposed to be aware of their own behavior around their children. Immature parents are too consumed with themselves to be good role models. They end up putting out into the world irresponsible, immature, entitled kids in “adult suits”. Do your children a favor: be responsible so that they know what that looks like. If you make a mistake? Own it. Don’t know what you’re doing? Say so. Feeling overwhelmed? Get help. Teach your kids that people make mistakes, and not to condemn them for it.
There isn’t one person on the planet that hasn’t failed at something. Teach them to persevere through failure, and not to run from things when they aren’t working. They’ll never learn how to fix things that way. Not everything in life is disposable, and some things can’t be retrieved once they are lost. That’s teaching them to run from challenges in life, setting them up for failure. Responsibility helps a kid’s self esteem, sense of self worth, and self confidence. When they see it in you, they will model it. If they know you can handle things, so can they. They’ll make an impact and solid impression that you can be proud of.