Capitalizing on teachable moments


A good reputation is more valuable than money.
– Publilius Syrus 100 BC Maxims

In the midst of our incredibly busy days, parents search for something called quality time. But time is time, and each week we are given exactly 10,080 minutes; no more, no less. Time is the great equalizer – it doesn’t matter how much or how little money you have.

How we spend that time is what matters. Interestingly, we often spend time in things we can document, quantify or measure, such as activities like sports, school, chores, and work. But what matters more are the things you can’t measure, such as the impact of teachable moments. We need to look at those opportunities as gifts and capitalize on them.

Thank you Former Governor Spitzer. Thank you for giving us the opportunity the explain to our children the difference between little and big mistakes. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to ask our children a simple but very important question,

“What do you think your reputation is worth?”

Since we are surrounded by popular culture, what used to be considered infamous is now immediately considered famous. We are in the parenting fight of our lives and need to find opportunities to reinforce our values despite the world’s perceptions of values imploding around us.

The young woman in the Spitzer case stands to make millions from the publicity. Again, discuss with your children what her reputation is really worth? A new show called Moment of Truth offers large money prizes for true answers. Unless you’ve lead a Mother Teresa-like existence, I would suggest not trading your reputation and family embarrassment for dollars.

Despite your best attempts, you can’t be around your children all the time, so the next best thing is to make sure they are thinking before they act. No doubt they will make mistakes, but have discussions that reinforce the values you want to instill so you can at least minimize that possibility. I know you think children sometimes don’t listen, but they do. After all, if we didn’t listen, how could you explain that when we grow up we all sound just like our mothers or fathers.

As you end your discussion, put this seed in your child’s head;

“Before you do something – think, would you be proud or embarrassed for us to learn about it?”

That will tell them all they need to know.



  1. Robyn Henning said

    “What do you think your reputation is worth?” After recently presenting at a regional conference on “Keeping Your Family Safe Online”, the issue of how kids present themselves online came up over and over again. I am consistantly concerned (not only by the behaviors) by the photographs teens post of themselves all over the internet, particularly on myspace and facebook. These pictures can haunt them the rest of their lives. Parents are often completely unaware there kids have these pages, let alone what information is sent out in to the world about them. All it takes is one click and anyone can grab that picture, even with privacy settings in some cases. Kids don’t give this a thought before realizing what an impact these “small” decisions can make on their future.

  2. Kathy Hlavaty said

    Very well written, as always. My Mom always said “think before you do something”. I knew what she meant but never fully understood how severe the consequences could be. Act responsibly; live your life with integrity. You won’t have a successful life if you don’t.

  3. Talking about possible scenarios before they might happen will help your children make healthier decisions when the situations come up. As a health care provider, I have lots of stories to share with my children and my police officer husband has many more.

    Through the example of others, our children learned the consequences of behaviors. Our focus was Love. We would analyze the stories by determining if the person acted out of love or fear. Were they afraid not to be accepted by others and took a risk and became sick, injured or got in trouble? What could they have done differently? What lesson did they learn?

    Share with your children times you acted out of love and times you acted out of fear. Ask them: Remember how much you love your family, your parents, your friends, yourself. Is this action you are considering going to bring love into your life? Or will it cause suffering later? For you, or for those you love? Would you want the person most precious to you to take this action or to know you did it?

    Let’s teach our children to remember LOVE.

  4. Kakie said

    Thanks to all of you for your comments. This is exactly what I needed to read about tonight. You are terrific!!

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