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Setting a bad example

(11 Posts)
dorsetpennt Mon 15-Aug-11 09:55:45

I went to an agricultural show last weekend with an old friend and her ten year old granddaughter. It cost £8.00 per person to get in, children were admitted for no cost. My friend handed over a £10 note but got change for £20 - she told me this AFTER we had been admitted with great glee. Her little granddaughter witnessed this and I could see from the expression on her face that she was truly shocked.
In every other aspect my friend is a super person and has done a lot for her stepdaughter and her stepdaughter's children.[the little girl being one of them]. I did ask if she was going to go back and alert them of the fact that they had overpaid, her reaction was that it was their fault and she had extra to play with at the show. She doesn't need the money that badly, she is certainly far better off then I am, I wouldn't have done this.
Even if she would have done this on her own don't you think that on this occasion she should have set a good example to an impressionable child. I'm sure the little girl will have related this to her mother, I wonder what her mother would think. I know my MIL would not have been pleased or my son for that matter.
How can you teach honesty to a child with this sort of behaviour?

em Mon 15-Aug-11 10:46:42

Totally agree. Had a similar experience recently with 11 year-old GD in tow. Was given change for £20 when I'd handed over £10. It's a small and popular local business and if I hadn't told them, I think I would have felt so guilty I couldn't have gone back! GD approved and didn't for one moment suggest I should have done otherwise. Oddly enough this was similar to a 'scenario' I'd discussed a few years ago in class with my pupils (aged 11). They suggested that if they found a £10 note they'd keep it UNLESS they thought it might belong to someone's gran - eg outside a Post Office where old people collect their pension! A very interesting discussion ensued.

jackyann Mon 15-Aug-11 16:48:25

I agree, and it csn be very difficult.
Many years ago, a relative offered to take her children & 2 of mine to a safari park as a treat. Her income was limited and I offered to pay for mine (refused) to pack up a picnic (refused - it would be her treat to buy burgers). I sent my kids with money & instructions to pay for eg: ice creams.
I knew that this relative appreciated support we had given her, and knew she wanted to express this, so didn't push it any further.

The children cam back, gleeful that they had hidden under a pile of coats & blankets, so 2 got in free. They knew it was a bit "naughty" but didn't really understand that it was fraudulent.

We talked about it as best we could - we didn't want to spoil the kids' treat (we rarely did such things b/c we couldn't afford it!). Neither did we want to give the impression that "it's OK to cheat / steal if you can't afford it" (last week's looting?).
We did decide however, that our years' worth of example was more important than one incident, and that harping too much might make them defensive of their "aunty".
They never suggested that we cheat in order to have a treat so they were aware that we operated by a different code.

Adults now, they retain a good relationship with her, whilst recognising her faults. She has a great generosity of spirit, and they are now able to say to her "that's dreadful" - like when she parked in a parent/ child parking space on the grounds that she was a parent and had a child (aged 30!) with her.

GoldenGran Mon 15-Aug-11 17:24:20

Sounds like you dealt with it wel lJackyann. I think it is very important to behave with integrity and absolute honesty in front of children(preferably all the time too), other wise it is confusing to them if we expect them to be honest, but don't live like that ourselves. I have a friend, or rather acquaintance, who prides herself in getting away with not paying on buses,(more difficult to do now), and if in a restaurant the staff make a mistake in the bill in her favour, she won't point it out. She is in every other way a delightful person,but to see her express horror at the stealing and looting last week was bewildering, obviously one set of values for her and one for everyone else. No surprise then that her children have grown up like her.

jackyann Mon 15-Aug-11 20:00:52

Realised that I ought to add that this relative, when money was very tight, did a small amount of work (really a favour for a friend, who insisted on paying her). She donated the money to a local charity, saying that was the only way she could afford to give anything.
It seemed a question of scale for her, and although I don't think it's right to "pick & mix" your moral code, I would hate not to give credit where it is due.

Although I couldn't summon up a great deal of outrage on behalf of the safari park, it was the example that concerned me.

However (confession time) I once had a horribly confusing time in Boots (who change their layout regularly in order to confuse both customers & staff) with a very fractious toddler, who wriggled out of my arms, I couldn't get a grip on his reins, and he ran into the street, me hot-footing after him. I was so fed-up I decided to abandon my shopping trip, but when I got home found a toothbrush in my bag that I must have dropped in when I ran out! I was so cross with Boots for being unhelpful that I never returned it!!!
DH says they have since made a mint out of me, so not to worry! And toddler never realised!

Joan Tue 16-Aug-11 00:26:23

I saw an experiment on TV where various little businesses, eg a coffee stall deliberately gave too much change. 93% gave it back, which surprised everyone.

Yes, I agree children must learn honesty by example, but it is the examples given by the actual parents that matter - they can get over seeing someone else do the wrong thing, I reckon.

I taught mine to be honest by simply being honest, but I also stressed the point that it makes life simpler, easier and better. Once their Dad was out of work for 8 weeks. I was a family day care lady, the only work I could get to do at home while they were little. I declared my income to the government office that paid his unemployment benefit, and they let us keep most of it, only deducting a tiny bit from his unemployment benefit.

We discussed all this in front of the lads, and how pleasantly surprised we were that honestly cost us hardly anything. They had previously heard a neighbour telling us we were insane to declare my income. Not long afterwards that neighbour got arrested for cannabis growing and went to prison.

You couldn't have wished for a better lesson in honesty, and it involved not one lecture.

helshea Tue 16-Aug-11 01:19:31

The experiment you mention Joan would not necessarily have the correct outcome... because even the ones who didnt pay it back could quite easily be just as honest.. I personally have to admit I take change quite often and pop it back in my purse or pocket without even checking if it is correct or not, so although I may not have taken the extra money back it doesnt mean I knew I had even been given it...

glassortwo Tue 16-Aug-11 11:42:53

When my two were small I collected my family allowance at the small post office. When I got home I realised that I had been given double the amount I expected. I bundled the kids back into the pram and went back the Lady in the Post Office was astounded that I had taken the money back, we were really short of money,but I could not have taken what was not mine.

absentgrana Tue 16-Aug-11 11:49:02

Perhaps reading The Water Babies should be compulsory. I have never forgotten Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby – a lifelong mentor. smile

absentgrana Tue 16-Aug-11 11:49:52

Or, of course, Mrs Donebyasyoudid – a dire warning.

jackyann Tue 16-Aug-11 18:13:25

How could I have forgotten those 2 ladies! My grandmother read that book to me - her uncle was called Charles Kingsley (then surname). I came across someone else recently who had an ancestor with Charles Kingsley as his first names.
Joan - I am struck by your point about parents. Although I think it is the job of all adults to be mentors & helpers to all kids; I do think you are right that the "shades of grey" seen in other adults is more of a talking point than a worry.
I have also been aware over the years, that people do eventually get their come uppance ( and that my relative hasn't is because she does more good than bad, I think).
My son did some labouring & casual work for a local business man who was in the habit of getting our of speeding tickets by claiming that an employee must have been driving the car. The "employee" had always "just gone back to Poland". The police got so fed up with him that they set 2 officers on to investigating him, and my son was asked to give evidence. By the time it went to court, my son had another job, so was "neutral". The business man got so scared that he took legal advice & pleaded guilty. He paid a maximum fine of many 1000s and did community service which was a very salutary lesson.