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I was in the city last week with some of my colleagues and as we sat in the RedBalloon mini (Ruby) at the lights we watched a mother try to cross the road against the lights… a truck whipped around the corner… and it was inches from calamity. After the truck passed she did it again… this time successfully crossing the road.
What lesson did she just teach her 4 year old! (More than 200 pedestrians are hit by vehicles in Sydney city every year.)
So let’s fast forward this child’s life – she is now a teenager and she has no respect for any authority. She does not listen to her teachers and she definitely doesn’t listen to her parents. In fact worse she treats them with utter disdain.
In the moment that this mother ran across the road against the red light – she taught her daughter to break the rules and not listen to authority. She said ‘our personal needs are more important than the rules of society’.
My blood boils when I hear parents whinge about their unresponsive rude teenagers… like it is all the kids fault. We need to take a good hard look at ourselves and say ‘how am I responsible for our kids disdain for authority?’
My father used to say tongue in cheek ‘Do as I say not as I do.’ I thought it was a rubbish then, and I still do. We all need role models and people to look up to – especially our kids.
I was fascinated that when I was sharing in the TEDx presentation about my daughter and the great first gift she gave me when she was a baby… then I began to share that she is now 14. The audience laughed anticipating that I would say some cliché about ‘teenagers’ in fact what I shared was the sheer joy of being a parent of an articulate, talented, funny, amazing young person. I could not help but let my emotion spill into my words.
People are a reflection of what we think of them, and how we are with them.  Please watch the example you set for young ones… (whether they are your children – or other people’s) they will be teenagers and young adults soon enough. I’m not saying I have it handled – I have as many challenges as any parent. But I will never, ever speak poorly of my children or deride them – because it is up to me to teach them values and live by them.
And I wait for the green man – even when my kids are not around not there.

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