Who are your heroes? Do your children know who they are? Do you know who your children idolise? Unless you’re some kind of a monster, I’d bet that you, their parents and teachers are right up there.
My dad was a massive Spike Milligan fan. He bought me Silly Verse for Kids when I was about six, and it was a joy to read the poems aloud with him, the two of us laughing at both the words and illustrations. When I recently listened to an old Desert Island Discs that Spike recorded many years ago, it struck me as strange to hear him talking like a regular human being. It was only then that I realised what mythic status he held in my mind, due almost exclusively to being an object of my father’s admiration.
Whoever it is that you admire, your children are going to take it very seriously that someone they already regard as super-human holds that person in high esteem - so choose carefully, it may have more impact than you intend.
I’m sorry to say that despite having a Chinese best friend, I also recall my dad saying that he thought, “Enoch had the right idea.” Like many children, I repeated his opinions as if they were my own, and it took me until my teenage years to formulate an opposing point of view on this and many other subjects.
With the various wrangles and power struggles of day to day life, it’s easy for us to forget how much our children look to us, look up to us, and feel that the right thing to do is to conform to whatever we think.
Yes, it’s slightly different now, with so much information available to them via the internet, but they are still looking for our approval and craving our attention, and for many, it seems the simplest way to try to achieve this is to reflect back what they think we want to hear.
I would hope that we really want is for our children to formulate their own convictions, so it’s important that they realise that what we think is just that, only what WE think, and not necessarily right, correct and carved in stone.
We are already their heroes, so let’s behave heroically and help them to figure out what they think for themselves, without ridicule or dismissal.