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I don’t mean ABCs or counting and I don’t mean dodging laser bullets or an assassins blade on the PS3 either…

I am referring to what are we teaching our kids when it comes to things like responsibility, respecting others and respecting themselves. You know, those good old fashioned things we used to do or else we had our arse tanned and sent to sit in the car if we didn’t?

In today’s youth I can see a yawning chasm between those who do and those who don’t and it is scary as hell.

We grew up with a simple code of conduct that was easy to remember, even if we didn’t always remember to practise it.

The code:
1] Respect your elders
2] Use your manners
3] Do your chores
4] Respect the law

My 20 month old twin boys will be taught the same values I was minus Dads old leather strap.

So far we have been blessed with two young toddlers who put their clothes in the hamper when they change or have a bath, put their own nappy bag in the bin, pick up their toys (most times) when requested and sit on the tiled area when they are not in their high chairs and having a snack.

We have found that making things ‘fun’ rather than a chore has worked well…thus far. Getting the boys to cooperate is not always easy but gentle persistence seems to be the key. A good routine and setting, and sticking too, pretty firm boundaries seems to round it off nicely.

Our next two challenges are going to be getting the boys to not run off in opposite directions when they get out of the car or pram. This will be closely followed by the infamous Toilet Training (bet you can’t wait for the blog on that one!), in all it’s glory.

I wouldn’t be a Dad if I didn’t share at least one poo story…oh and pulling my finger on the other hand is going to be compulsory! 😉 (Again..no pun intended!).

So, do we have perfect kids? No…. They can be defiant and challenge ever boundary we set for them. Do we give in…sometimes but it totally depends on the circumstances. We are coming up to the terrible twos and horrible three will ensue but we are as ready as we can be. Are we good parents? We try and hope we are yet I think the proof is in the constant sunny disposition and smiles of our boys.

They thrive on our affection, the attention we pay them and the time we take to spend with them each and every day.

So I ask you again, what are you teaching your kids?

On the negative side I have been recently watching a few marriages break up with the strain of having multiples and either Mum or Dad, or both, are just not able to cope. It is sad to see but other than morally support all those involved it is their business.

In particular, I am watching one super Mum trying to the best she can while the father of her children stalk, hassle and literally try to play off the kids against her.
It is only though seeing actual evidence of what he is doing that I can say that this guy has gone off the rails…I’m talking bordering on psycho type behaviour here.

Using his own kids for ‘payback’ is about as low as you can go. Self centred, narcissist, bullying tactics is doing so much more harm than good…and for what?
AVOs and DVOs broken by him and yet he is still free to harass them at will.

Sometimes you just wish Karma had a toll free number and a nice shiny baseball bat that has to be broken in….and no, I’m not normally a person who tolerates such behaviour, but sometimes, well…you know. Again, good old perspective and circumstances make this the exception rather than the rule….

The only thing I cannot be sure about, is if this behaviour is either premeditated or just a mental health issue but either way it is affecting the older ones and it is sad to see.

Once again I digress….. So what are you teaching your kids?

Teaching our kids is going to be a challenge and one I hope we can rise to the occasion of doing well. Teaching them that the world is not all rainbows and cupcakes will be part of that too, when the appropriate time comes.

Teaching them what a farmer is and where food and milk comes from, teaching them how to do self defence, how to be gentlemen, romantic, caring, part of a community, volunteering and knowing right from wrong.

Teaching them the value of money, getting paid for their chores equals the reward of pocket money, giving 20% back to us (just like tax), then gifting them 50% of this tax as an annual return to do as they please, be it spend or save. The other 50% raised will go into a bank account for them for education or whatever useful purpose it can serve. Education is life skills and our schooling systems cannot do it all.

Teaching them how to mow the lawn, fix a leaky tap, change a spare tyre, how to read a book with us, when to say please and thank you and when to stand their ground or walk away.

Compassion, understanding, work ethic, balanced with play, relaxation and the recreation of their choosing.

Teaching involves encouragement, engagement, a deft hand and an open heart.
The flexibility to grow with our boys likes, dislikes, music, food choices, planting a garden, building a cubby house or simply sitting together at a footy match or on the bank of the river passing time and talking, listening and sharing what precious time we have together.

Teaching never stops yet you have to start somewhere and to us the sooner the better. These malleable, young minds are so impressionable from such a young age so why not start then? Don’t leave it too late thinking someone is going to do it for you, or them. I call it ‘Life Maintenance’ for a better way to describe how much easier it is to make small corrections. Little and often over large and painful is the view I have taken to hopefully guide, to a degree, to what will become my legacy for my boys. I am investing in them to become better men and the interest is that they will be able to do the same for their kids in the years to come.

Your part in your child’s education started the day they were born. That’s a fact. So if you are worried you have left it too late, don’t be too concerned, you can always start today……and when I say today, I mean right now. You reap what you sow…

For those wondering why I am here writing this now and not practising what I preach, rest assured that this one blog has taken me three hours to finish. I am currently sitting on the back deck, as I do every night, on Dad duty until midnight with the baby monitor to my right and a coffee to my left. In between writing and watching the monitor, one of my boys has been coughing on and off and I have attended to them both several times to make sure the room isn’t too cold, they haven’t left a snot trail half way over their pillow and, I admit, one more chance to touch their brow and gently rub their backs before snaking out of the room again.

I am a Dad and I will give every resource I have to help educate my boys. So I ask you again, what are you teaching your kids…..I’d love to know….