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It seems that in our urban community, we no longer raise our children based on morals, principles and values. We raise them on J’s (Jordans), music, and GameStop. A lot of parents aren’t yet mature adults—they’re still young and still in the process of growing up themselves. As adults, we’re still dealing with our childhood issues. On top of that, many of us are still trying to find our place in society and find our identity (i.e. who we are and what we’re about). There are so many of us struggling to raise ourselves while also raising children today that are becoming parents. Because of our lack of development and lack of understanding of the world around us, we impart the wrong ideas upon our children.

I want to use this article to focus on a few points on how we approach parenting. I’d like to start with our children’s appearances. It seems as if we’ve taken our insecurities and our misplaced need for expensive things to identify who we are and we’ve imparted that upon our children. Our elementary schools have become fashion contests. Children today have the same mindset and concerns with fashion, appearance, and status as adults. The little social cliques, even among children in elementary school, have become about who has the newest j’s, and whose dad or most likely mom drives what car. The focus on school and those precious social interactions that help children to understand friendships and relationships has been corrupted. If you talk to most teachers and school staff they will attest to this fact. Children’s concern with material objects over meaningful social interactions and learning is reflected in their behavior—they’re more concerned with their new phone or shoes and less concerned with doing well in school. Most of the time, you can tell exactly what a child’s parents or parent (most of our kids are in single parent homes) are like before meeting them based on that child’s behavior.

This conversation is not just about buying expensive things for your children. Some people can afford to buy expensive things for their children and also teach them morals, values, and principles. This conversation is more to discuss the competitive nature that some of us display and the negative messages and lessons we’re imparting on our children. Indirectly, we’re teaching our children that what you wear equals status, so eventually a child equates that to “if you don’t have these things you’re not of “status.” Many times the value of hard work and savings is not taught along with the “swag” and “stay fresh” message. Keeping up with the Jones’ is no longer about the house, cars and prestige. Now your kids are trying to keep up with the little Jones’ too.

I believe as a parents your children’s appearance is a direct reflection of you. Your responsibility is to keep your children clean. They may not return home that way but you are obligated to send them out that way. By clean I mean clothes are clean and iron, hair combed and body hygiene intact. It serves you or your child’s future nothing that they are walking around in the most expensive everything but unable to read or do math proficiently. I’ve personally seen this during my time in the schools as an after school program operator: kid can’t complete his homework but can tell you how much his outfit cost and how much more it cost then yours. What if that kid applied those math skills to something more meaningful? Let’s wake up and truly invest in our children’s future. Jordan’s get old and you eventually throw them away. Respect, manners, self-esteem, and the confidence that comes from knowledge of history and self, and a sound education– these things never get old and they never get thrown away.

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts and join the conversation.