Our farm was a Missouri Agri-tourism site. This meant it was recognized and promoted as offering educational and entertaining farm tours. In other words, families, adult groups, and groups of children—LOTS of children visited the lambing barns and greenhouse on the farm to learn where our food comes from and other important things about the word of agriculture.
For the most part, children made up the bulk of our visitors; preschools and schools wanting to give their students the farm experience. I thoroughly enjoyed giving the farm tours; making sure everyone had a good time while learning something new…a good and safe time.
Our farm was a working farm, which means there was livestock, tools and equipment—things that could have hurt someone if not used properly. That’s why immediately after I welcomed a group of children to the farm, we talked about safety rules and how obeying these rules would make their visit more fun for everyone. And you know what? The kids were good with that. Even the most mischievous children and busiest preschoolers willingly obeyed the rules. As for some of the parents who came along as ‘chaperones’…they were the problem.
The parents who came along usually came with cameras (or phones, as time went on) so they could capture every moment of the event—which was fine. I had no problem with them taking pictures. What I did have a problem with however, was the fact that many of the parents told their children to break the rules. In nearly every group of visitors was a parent or two that told their child to climb on a gate, pick up a lamb, climb up on the bales of straw or hay, or get up on the tractor so they could snap a few pictures.
Whenever I saw a child getting ready to break the rules, I was quick to remind them by saying, “You promised not to break the rules, so please keep your promise.” You could see the kids’ uneasiness when their parents told them to do these things. They knew it was against the rules and most of the time, this was enough to keep things in check. There were times, though, that the reminders went unheeded and parents would say, “Oh it’s okay, go ahead.” Or “I just want a quick picture he/she won’t hurt anything” to which I replied that it wasn’t okay and they would need to follow the rules. The end.
I’ve been thinking a lot about those parents lately—the ones who teach their children to disrespect authority and who instill a sense of entitlement and a belief that they are exempt from the rules. Hhhhmmm, sound familiar?
How many news stories wouldn’t be news stories if parents didn’t encourage their kids to break the rules? How many outbreaks of violence and shootings wouldn’t take place if parents didn’t teach their children to ignore the voice of authority? You might think it’s ‘just a picture’ or that the teacher doesn’t know what he/she is talking about, but when you teach, encourage and condone your children’s attitude of disrespect and disregard for rules and guidelines, you are actually one ‘episode’ closer to being a news story.
Think about it…
Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.