We got our 4 year old son, Leif, the dramatized telling of The Hobbit on cd for his birthday and he has since been listening to the story, and keeping us up-to-date on the protagonist’s whereabouts. This particular version mispronounces some of the names- at least in my opinion.
So when Leif comes in the kitchen telling me some factoid about “Smoge” the dragon (pronouncing it with a long “o”)- I have a split-second crisis. Do I let my child enjoy the story, learning the incorrect pronunciation of “Smaug” (I think it rhymes with “fog”. This is, however, a matter of intense internet debate.), or do I make it a point to gently, subtly ask, “You mean Smaug?”
Which one do I do? I decide to teach my son to interact with the world in the way that I think is best. Yes, it’s only the pronunciation of a fictional dragon- but the issue runs deeper.
As a parent, we have the unique opportunity to shape the way these little people understand and ultimately interact with the world. As parents, we have the responsibility to be proactive about instilling the values that we have in our kids- or else someone else will be right there with a different value.
Let me stop right here and make a disclaimer: I am not afraid of the world we live in. I am not advocating isolating children from the “real world”. Keep reading…
I would challenge every parent to take a few minutes and write down two or three things that are values. What do you want to pass down to your child? These can be big or small values. And then I would ask the question, “What do you do to consistently teach and show your child this value?” Or, “What can you do to instill this value in your children?”
This can be a very easy thing to incorporate. Teaching certain values does not require hours of lectures- it means a minute here, and an experience there. A lot can be taught “around the edges” when you are intentional with those moments.
Just as I want the reading of The Hobbit to be a shared experience with Leif, there are many other (arguably more important) matters that I hope my children will leave our home knowing and living out in their lives. I want to be mindful and not assume that they will glean these without me vocalizing them.
The tricky part is discovering the areas that we aren’t communicating to our kids. But once you find one, just make a plan and communicate it to them!
Here’s to envisioning our kids!