It is amazing how negative connotations both reign and damage our culture DAILY! A quick glance into popular culture and you are enamored with phrases like, “You’re not on my level.” “I hate it when…” “This is, You are, or That is stupid!” Day in and day out on television, radio, on the Internet and in print, in politics, education, technology, and finance we find ourselves watching, receiving and, more importantly, longing to be in a position to tell folks what THEY can’t do. What seems to not be taken into consideration, at any level, are the effects that these negative connotations seem to have on our children. In presentations, I often refer to Charles Horton Cooley’s social psychological concept called “The Looking Glass Self.” The Looking Glass Self has three main components:
- We imagine how we must appear to others.
- We imagine and react to what we feel their judgments of that appearance must be.
- We develop our self through the judgment of others.
For our children, especially, their “Looking Glass” has eliminated component 1 of the theory as our children’s imaginations have been replaced with destructive images, languages, and the thought processes to match. Component 2 is also eliminated because our children are seeing their “role models” win awards, appear in interviews, and earn adoring followers. How could any young person not long for this? As a consequence, however, we see the negative purported actions of these “role models” practiced in our school buildings. Where the attention that they are seeking leads them to a pipeline (as in school-to-prison) of negative consequences (Detention, Silent lunches, In School Suspension, Out Of School Suspension, etc.). This is causing a much larger negative connotation that says “Our kids can’t get right!”
Is this the truth?
Well how do we know that it’s NOT the truth?
Here is where our true influence as parents, leaders of our homes, matriarchs & patriarchs of our families come into play. Accentuating the positive of our lives and of what’s good in society will definitely turn the page of influence in our children, in my opinion. Smiling faces, proper grammar, and being more cleanly dressed, if seen on an on going basis, can definitely have a positive impact on our children.
Imagine if this line of impact was delivered on television, in print, on the radio, and on the Internet… When positive goes in, positive comes out. However, this is a familial crisis! As parents we MUST provide Balance! Sure, we can allow our kids to consume popular culture, but when we do we should also provide an equal yet counter narrative that enlightens and sparks the intuitive nature of our children. For every Drake & Rick Ross add Quincy Jones & Miles Davis. For every movie filled with violence, add movies filled with hope. Take your children to museums and operas as much as you take them to football games & concerts. Expose your children to your cultural history in the cities where you live. By simply having this exposure, our children’s lives will be more well rounded and they will respect the opportunities later in their lives; believe me!
Accentuating the positive can only turn out good because it is of good intention. However, we hold ourselves back due to our own fears and insecurities. It is us who must overcome the choices that we’ve made for ourselves and give our children the chance to be who THEY choose to be. As adults, we have made our choices. We are living them out as we are improving ourselves, but our children are still yet vulnerable to our influences as they are the influences that are given to them.
Parents, your greatness and your influence in your role in the family are the most important in a child’s life. We are doing the best that we can and I want you to know that I’m proud of you because you lead with your heart, intelligence, wisdom, and bank account (insert laugh) as a connected influence. As we continue in this walk to improve the overall life of young people. Never forget, ladies & gentlemen, to create balance by Accentuating The Positive as it will create a more positive life for you and your child. Remember to tie your bowties people! Be Empowered!
Mr. E! The Motivator!
Jason D. Etheridge, M. Ed.
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