“BWAH-BWAH-BWAH” is the sound of grown-ups talking in Charlie Brown specials. Many parenting experts I have read say this is what our kids hear when we lecture them. Having been on the receiving end of many lectures growing up, I know this is partially true. But I do think when a lecture is repeated often enough with sincerity and backed up with parental example, the message does get through.
I base this on my experiences with my dad. My dad was (and still is at times) a great lecturer. He could go on and on and on about something if he thought I needed to be set straight. Since I was gifted with “book sense, but not much horse sense,” I heard a lot of lectures.
I can remember my thoughts wandering off during his lectures while I made sure to look like I was listening to every word. I can remember that my dad’s eyes would change colors if he was really upset. I can remember a lot of BWAH-BWAH-BWAH.
But I also remember the key messages of his favorite lectures. A good portion of my own moral code today is based on those messages my dad drilled into my head decades ago.
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· Don’t waste food!
· Don’t waste water!
· If you have a chance to help someone, you better take it because you never know when you might need help.
· Always, always, always treat someone who works hard with respect no matter what job they do. A garbage man deserves as much respect a doctor or lawyer.
· Always vote with the Union because they stand up for working people.
Now these messages did not take right away. I would fill the bathtub too deep, leave food on my plate, avoid helping out if I could, and be snobby to others because I was teen and, therefore, superior. I even actively supported a non-Union candidate in a primary once while my dad shook his head. (For the record, four years later I worked my tail off for the very same candidate my dad and the Union had supported.)
Today I give these very same lectures to my kids. I am pretty sure some of them are word-per-word what my dad used to say to me. And when I notice my kids tuning me out, I don’t lose hope. I know important lessons take time, repetition, and parental examples to help them sink in. I have the words of my dad’s lectures down. My kids often tell me they have heard it all before from me. Now all I have to do is provide parental examples for my kids that are as good as the ones my dad gave, and gives, me. That, my friends, is a work in progress.