On February 18 this year, Americans will celebrate President’s Day – another watered-down Monday, long-weekend-holiday filled with retail sales and little mention of the meaning of the day. We Baby Boomers remember when, instead, we honored Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12 and George Washington’s on February 22. It seemed easier then to teach children the values of the founding fathers and honorable Presidents. Who could forget the story of George Washington admitting that he chopped down the cherry tree, saying “I cannot tell a lie,” or the myriad tales about “honest Abe.” These were our role models then, not the squabbling candidates with sound bites and spin that dominate our airways now.
How do we find role models for our children and grandchildren today when they see sports heros taking steroids, award-winning rock stars zoned-out on drugs, glamorous starlets pictured in drunken stupor, religious leaders and teachers molesting children? Perhaps we need look no farther than to our own parents. Many of their generation, “the greatest,” lived through the depression, the Second World War and the Cold War. They were tempered by the hard realities of life and their values were shaped by the need to retain their ideals nevertheless. Who better to pass on the importance of internal strength, decency, honesty, hard work, fair play to our children?
As a Sandwiched Boomer, often exhausted by the day-to-day needs of caring for your aging parents and growing children, you may not have thought about how your parents can help you form the values of your children. Encourage them to spend time with your family, telling stories about their lives and how they dealt with the ups and downs they faced. Let your children learn from them how to live a life worthy of their legacy. You will all gain from the experiences. Use this President’s Day to inaugurate your own message for change!