Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 23, 2014

What are we teaching our children?

Mar 29, 2013

By STEPH TAHTINEN

Mt. Pleasant News

One of my favorite parts of my job is taking pictures at kids’ events and activities. They have the best facial expressions, and they’re always so excited when I tell them I’m from the newspaper ask for their name. (Adults are usually less thrilled about the prospect of having their picture in the next issue).

So when I woke up last Saturday, I was excited to have two events I planned to cover — a mentoring event and an egg hunt. Yet, although the two events were promising, they were vastly different experiences.

Taking pictures at the mentoring program was entertaining and enjoyable. It was fun watching the kids play the different team-building games and work together to figure out the challenges.

During one game, the large group was divided into several teams with about 10 people each. They were given the scenario that they were stranded on an island in the middle of a hot chocolate river, and they had to use their four “marshmallows” — really four vinyl floor tiles — to get their entire team across the river to safety.

What was inspiring about this game was how it taught the kids how they had to rely on each other and work together to achieve their goal. In many groups, I witnessed both mentors and mentees physically supporting each other to keep their balance as they worked their way from point A to point B. It was teamwork at its finest.

So, I left the mentoring day feeling warm and fuzzy about mankind, and anxiously looking forward to the Easter egg hunt that afternoon.

However, while there were plenty of cute kids at the event, their cuteness was overshadowed by the behavior of some of the parents.

While the kids were lined up and waiting for the hunt to begin, a mother next to me told her daughter, “Sneak closer. If the other kids are sneaking forward, you do it, too.”

As the kids ran and toddled around the park, carefully picking up pieces of candy and plastic eggs and putting them in their baskets and bags, their parents stood there yelling directions and instructions at them. It was like watching a very fast-paced kids’ sporting event.

From what I witnessed, the parents were more competitive and concerned about getting candy than the kids were. I saw quite a few parents literally dragging their small child around by the arm, the parent picking up more candy than the child did.

After the hunt, I heard one mother berating her son for not picking up enough eggs, telling him that she told him to go after the eggs so he could win a prize.

I was disgusted with the lessons being passed from some of the parents to their children. I’m not against egg hunts in general, but the behavior of some of the parents was uncalled for and a bit extreme. It’s no wonder we’ve become a society where people are trampled to death for Black Friday sales, if this is the kind of thing we’re taught from an early age.

As I thought about these two vastly difference scenes I had observed during the day, I couldn’t help but compare the two. The first was about teamwork and lending a helping hand — often literally. The second was about selfishness, looking out for yourself and trying to do whatever you can to do better than the other kids.

Now, I’m not a parent, but it seems to me like one of these lessons is a much better message to be sending to your children.

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