Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Make an example of yourself

DD got an interesting easter present. A bootleg movie. Not just a copy of a movie that somebody had bought, but even worse - one of those kinds where somebody brought in a camcorder to a movie theater and taped a current release. Now, this person did not make the movie and in fact didn't even understand what they had. Even after explaining it, they still didn't understand what we meant by "bootleg" and why it was wrong. Finally we decided to just drop the matter for the moment because feathers were being ruffled and people were getting riled. Once we were home, DD asked if she could watch her movie. I explained to her how it was a STOLEN movie, and asked if she still wanted to watch it. She admitted that it was wrong to do, and that she would feel guilty, but she really did want to watch the movie. After all, SHE didn't steal it - it had been a present! I asked, if mommy went to the store and stole a book then gave it to you, it is still stealing even if it is a gift. If you know it is stolen when you get it, you should not take it, or at least not read it. It is EVERY PERSON's responsibility to do the right thing, no matter how many people before them did not. She decided not to watch the movie, but we could tell she was extremely disappointed. Later on DH and I discussed it. He said "How bad would it be to let her watch it? I mean, she doesn't know the difference and she really wants to see it". My answer was, the fact that she doesn't know the difference is exactly the point! Isn't it our responsibility as parents to teach her right from wrong? And if we let her watch the movie it is just like telling her reaping the rewards when other people do wrong is okay and acceptable when it is NOT. We do not make copies of movies we own and we do not download or purchase bootleg movies made in theater because it is illegal, immoral, and unethical. Who is supposed to teach her these things if we don't? The next morning, she asked if she could keep the money she got for easter instead of putting it in the bank. "I can buy the movie when it comes out on DVD. That way I can watch it and it won't be stealing and since I used easter money it is still a gift". Sounds like a good plan to me! I have noticed that somewhere along the line, many people have stopped trying to be good examples for their children or the people around them. We are not talking making sure they get their due, but rather taking more than their share and seem to feel entitled to it. "Why should I? Other people do it". I don't care what other people do. The only actions I can control are my own, so that is what I plan on doing. And maybe I can teach DD a few good lessons along the way. Maybe I can be a good example to somebody else. Maybe a person who is thinking of doing something they shouldn't will read this and realize that HEY. We are accountable to somebody. OURSELVES. I gave my child the choice of watching the movie or not, after making sure she understood all the implications and also that if she decided to watch it she would not be punished. She asked me if I would watch it if she did, and my answer was NO. "Why not?" she wanted to know. Because it is wrong, it is stealing. "But nobody would know", she insisted. Yes, baby. I would know. And that is all that matters.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for being a good parent & expaining ethics to your daughter.. I only wish that more parents would do this and serve as a good example. Children model themselves on their parents.

colleenoz said...

Good on you! I echo the first comment.
Years ago when I was a crosswalk guard, as a woman who had jaywalked further up the road (right outside the school playground), I said to her, "We ask that parents use the crosswalk too to set a good example for the children." "Oh, I'm not a parent, " she sneered. "I'm sorry, I didn't realise that absolved you from setting a good example!" I replied.
We all need to set good examples and not let our children aspire to the lowest common denominator, which seems to be happening at the moment.

anette said...

Shouting "BRAVO!!!" at the top of my voice!

One of the biggest problems we in the US have today is a lack of responsibility for our actions. I am sure that problem crosses geographical boundaries, but cannot speak for other countries. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain this to your daughter. I wish more parents were like you.