To raise great kids today, return to the values of yesteryear

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Hi! I'm Sandy (although lots of people call me 'Auntie') and my husband works offshore in oil/gas. We've been together for 30years, many of them as a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) family. In that time we've raised two daughters (both now at uni) and moved more than 19 times! I wanted to write for Mining Family Matters to show you can survive FIFO.

Friends occasionally ask my advice on how to raise their children. I couldn't understand this at first. Why ask me? Then I sit back and look at our daughters: they are polite young woman making their way in the world. I think it's come about by instilling old-fashioned values into them.

I insist on a few things in our house. When a gentleman holds open the door, you must reply with a "thank you". I still do this for my husband after 32 years. The youngest asked why she should say thanks. My answer? If you don't, there's a chance it won't happen again. Next rule: at the dinner table, you must remove your cap. 

Then there are the ideas I have instilled to the girls.

  1. Children should not interrupt an adult when they are holding a conversation (unless of course there is blood gushing from a wound!) This teaches patience - and we all know that is something that you will need through life.
  2. In any social setting, the younger ones let the older people sit. I did notice recently my 21-year-old giving her Nana the comfortable chair at a BBQ. This goes to public transport as well.
  3. One that my husband quotes all the time: "For every action there is an opposite or equal reaction." We have used this to teach the children to be true to themselves. Be honest. Take responsibility for your actions. This sort of goes with 'treat others the way you would like to be treated'. I myself am a true believer in Karma. If you do something nice for people then it will come back to you. Why not help the elderly couple at the supermarket with their groceries? (Come on you know those trollies have a mind of their own and are a struggle to deal with!)
  4. Have self control - whether this be the temper or the temptations of a growing adult. Be confident and able to say no. But also recognise that if you do make the wrong decision, I will be there to help pick up the pieces.
  5. Respect your elders. Be polite. Yes, you might have already heard the story of the neighbour's cat getting stuck in the tree, but politely listen to it again. I have learnt a lot of things by listening to older people. This teaches empathy and compassion.
  6. Most of all, be honest. Teach them that some people are false and dishonest. They need to be honest with those closet to them. This builds trust from within the family network. People they can rely on. I cringe when I see or hear children telling lies because somewhere along the way they are going to need help and no-one is going to listen. Like the story of the little boy who cried wolf.

And how do we teach these to our children? By setting an example. Our girls have been lucky enough to have grandparents and great-grandparents in their lives. I always told my husband 'monkey see, monkey do'. Children learn their behaviour from those around them - whether it's positive or negative. When she was a small child, my first daughter was playing with a ball inside with grandad. The ball was kicked and rolled down the stairs. He said "Off you go sweetheart and get it." Her reply? "You get of your a*#e and get it." Well, where had those words come from? I think I would have to put my hand up for that one.

When there rules were broken, there was always a consequence for the action. No point in counting to three and then doing nothing. You could end up counting forever! They have to learn to be responsible for their actions.

My husband and I were lucky enough to be taught these values by our elders, too. Our girls have grown up with the same rules and life lessons. We are proud of them and have never been embarrassed to take them into any situation.

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