I have long believed that we as adults have no more important responsibility than to provide sound leadership, supervision, direction, and protection for our children; not just for our own, but for any who may be impacted by the things we do or say. I chose to become a teacher, because I had had the good fortune of being surrounded by teachers and coaches who viewed their roles as far more than distributors of academic or athletic knowledge. They were strong, principled leaders, who were mentors, role models, and caregivers for whoever was under their supervision. These people had changed my life for the better, and I wanted to do the same for other young people.
The truth is, I have been somewhat of a leadership geek for as long as I can remember, in part because I have held positions of leadership since junior high, but also because I was intrigued by men and women who could unite people from diverse backgrounds and who could convince a group of people to set aside their personal desires to achieve a common goal. I not only learned from the people with whom I had direct contact, but I also studied the attributes of the strongest leaders in other fields, such as the military, business, and even professional sports.
The constant spate of crises Americans have faced in recent months has caused me to reflect on what I learned about leadership from those who have effectively lead others, and compare it to what we have witnessed from our national leaders during these turbulent times.
Suffice it to say there is little connection. In fact, instead of uniting America, it seems that many from both parties are hell-bent on dividing it.
Now, I realize that politics at the national level is treated as little more than a silly little game by the participants from both parties, and maybe we as adults, while hopefully exhausted by their behavior, can understand the game. But, do these people not realize that everything they do is also witnessed by impressionable children?
Does the President not comprehend that when he calls his opponents insulting names, mimics those less fortunate than he is, or denigrates anyone who dares to disagree with him, his behavior goes far deeper than just “Trump being Trump.”
There are children watching the leader of the free world behave that way.
Does he really want our kids to think that’s the way we treat each other, particularly those with whom we have a difference of opinion?
If he does, I sure as heck hope the rest of us don’t.
Similarly, when Nancy Pelosi theatrically stands behind the President of the United States and disrespectfully rips up his State of the Union speech in an effort to impress her fellow Democrats, does she really not understand that children are watching her behave like a petulant child?
Does she really not understand that what she did was akin to a student standing in front of his or her teacher and tearing up the class rules because he or she doesn’t like them?
Well, she modeled for our children that’s just a fine thing to do.
Neither party has a monopoly on juvenile behavior. There are enough examples of so-called “leaders” from both parties behaving in such disrespectful and childish ways that one could fill a book, and while they may simply view this as political sport for adults to enjoy, it is so much more than that.
There are children watching.
Sadly, our national media gleefully participates, as they either engage in the name calling themselves or happily publicize it when it occurs with their own juvenile narratives attached.
Apparently, they, too, have forgotten there are children watching.
And, if and when someone with a modicum of decorum calls out one group or the other for their childish behavior, the response is often, “Well, they did it first!”
Just like a bunch of immature fifth graders would do.
The good news is that during my time in education, I worked with many students, some as young as elementary aged, who had ascended to leadership positions within their schools, and none of them behaved in the manner our national leaders regularly exhibit.
They were so much better.
Let’s hope that continues to be true, but for God’s sakes, could our leaders at least exhibit the leadership skills we like to see from our high school students if for no other reason than our country needs it more than ever right now?