Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"Illegal aliens", Paris Hilton and Raising Kids.

I know, the link between illegal aliens, Paris Hilton and raising great kids seems a bit esoteric on first glance-but stick with me and then see if you agree.

Today's top news stories are Paris Hilton's release from jail (I know, I know you are relieved for the poor girl, too) and the heated debate on the pending immigration laws.

First of all, I want someone to tell me what an "illegal alien"? Do they come from Jupiter or another planet? Can people be illegal? It can't possibly be illegal to be a person, can it?

We do have upwards of 13 million "UNDOCUMENTED" people living in the United States. I know that using accurate language doens't always translate to good sound bites, but don't our kids deserve accurate information-information that isn't inherently judgemental and prejudicial?

It wasn't that long ago that my daughter was an immigrant. Yep, she came to the US on a green card and went through the citizenship process complete with holding up her right hand swearing to defend the Constitution. She is a pretty smart kid and has made the connection from immigration to racism pretty quickly ("why don't people like people from Mexico, Mommy?" when she saw a group vehemently protesting the legalization of undocumented workers who were primarily from Mexico). How I responded to that question and what actions I took-if any-were critical to her.

Next up is Paris Hilton-while most people claim to be sick of Paris it is one of the most viewed stories online-far outstripping folks interested in legislation that could materially influence our kids futures. It doesn't make sense to me that we would give a hoot about Paris, let alone be hungry for all things "Paris".than other topical issues. Yet, there it is-Paris Hilton as a role model for kids. I don't know about you, but that scares me.

So we have two interesting role models-one of intolerance and one of arrogance. How is a savvy parent supposed to deal with these less than desirable role models?

Raising great kids takes guts. We have to take a stand-they have to walk the walk and talk the talk. You can't claim to be anti-racist if you make cracks about
'those dirty Mexicans are taking our jobs." Even ethnic jokes have to be thought through. You can't claim that Paris Hilton is nothing more than a synchophant yet eagerly devour news coverage about her. Your kids GET this....and then they become you!

Parenting and raising great kids-kids with a realistic and accepting view of themselves and others-is done by example. Kids learn by what we do first and what we say second-Just remember that the next time you swear under your breath or sneak a smoke!

Ask yourself what your interest level in Ms. Hilton would have been if she was a Hispanic person that didn't have the documents to 'work' in the US? More interesting- is what would have happened if Paris wasn't white and priveledged?

So you see, the link isn't so esoteric after all. Its all about role models for the next gen.

Have a great day.

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