Teach, Teach Your Children Well


I love FB timeline pop ups, they make me smile recollecting all of the many wonderful experiences that enveloped our lives when my three sons were young. It was not easy raising three boys as a single-parent and it was especially challenging raising three young teen boys of African-American heritage during a time when prejudice, ignorance and stereotypes hover around young children of cover like a dense pungent fog.

On this important day, when we pause and recognize the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr –I pray you consider your role in raising up a generation of young men and young women of strong moral character. I pray that a generation of young adults will rise up in our nation and throughout our world to have the conscience-capability and courage to stand up and to speak up for the cause of compassion-love and justice. Children are never too young to learn about the ethics and character–these teachings are critical and will ultimately shape them in to conscientious human beings.

I recall vividly my husband/the boy’s father joking “they are like mini camcorders” and he was spot on. Children learn–not only learn from what you say but absorb even more significantly from what you do. What are your children learning from you?

Teach your young children now and teach them well– not simply with lectures or ultimatums but with true cultural stories and historical overviews they might not learn in school. Teach them by your positive example, by your daily engagement with others and also through the commitments that are important to you spiritual, socially and yes even politically. Children are brilliant if you give them a chance. 

My three sons Gabriel Isaiah Kent, Samuel James Kent and Elijah Solomon Kent were taught from a very early age, even younger than this photo about the principles of the mighty Samurai or the noble teaching of Native Warriors, they learned about Rosa Parks who I met and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They have heard of Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Theresa and Cesar Chavez. My son attended lectures with me when my friend and mentor Harvard Law School Sean Dr. Derrick Bell launched “Faces at the bottom of the well” at Powell’s bookstore and met leaders like Dr. Richard Twiss (Lakota) Theologian and ecumenical leader who shared a diverse perspective of the gospel of love/peace. My sons have attended rallies, school district meetings, watched documentaries and engaged in discussion with me after school nearly every day during their most formative teen years. It is important for young people to engage in diverse experiences when they are young. It is also critical to allow them to speak—to have their own voice to articulate, their perspectives, fears and hopes.

My three sons were allowed a voice, but a voice that was mindful and respectful of the perspectives of others no matter how diverse or different. My boys attended fiestas, Pow Wows and Civil rights events so that I could give them an opportunity to broaden their understanding and perspective about the world. We enjoyed high tea in Victoria and visited the barrios of east LA. They tasted foods from all over the world when they were young and were fortunate to hear stories from their Grandfather James Arthur Kent, Sr. who I invited to come live with us. Grandpa was the son of a sharecropper.

If you are a parent of a small child or even a teen, it is not too late to help your child develop and broaden the content of their character, to expand their concern and compassion for others and yes–even to raise up a generation of leaders who will prioritize the concerns of community, nation and world over continual self-interest and greed for economic wealth. Don’t get me wrong–there is absolutely nothing wrong with being financially successful and educated formally but all of that must be balanced with a compassionate heart and an open perspective to strengthen the character of a child or young person. I have no doubt that someday my sons will reflect in their work and in their personal lives all they learned growing up and I pray the same for your children. Our world needs better leadership. Teach, teach your children well–love them but also expose them to broad array of people-events and knowledge to strengthen their moral character—perhaps then future generations will have an opportunity to live on a healthy planet and in peace.



Always, Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato



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