Actions speak louder than words


My previous work was in higher education where one of my responsibilities was student discipline.   This taught me a lot about human nature.  After a number of years, I concluded that students just want what they want.   They don't care about the rules or the equity of a situation; they just want what they want.   Sometimes it is an impulse issue.   Other times it is what they perceived as an entitlement issue, I did this, so you owe me.  

As I grew older and handled more parents with these cases, I found that most people (not simply college kids) just want what they want.   Student discipline was an emotionally charged area, because the stakes were always high.   We kicked students out of college for continual infractions of rules, when sometimes the root issue was alcohol, or over indulgence by parents that continued into college with negative, socially unacceptable behaviors.

As I handled these cases, I was also stunned that students and their parents would shriek, threaten, insult, and defend in an effort to change the outcome.   Most of the time there was plenty of evidence, repeated infractions, lots of discussion with professional staff, yet the student continued with the problematic behavior.   More than once I asked a parent how insulting me would get them what they wanted?   The responses were interesting, since most of the time I was the final step in what had been a long process with many opportunities for change in behavior and attitude.

Some people believe that if they are well dressed and look nice, their behavior doesn't matter, even if they have good manners.   I don't believe that is the case.   Actions speak louder than words and clothes.   Manners are important, but so is doing the right thing.   Understanding that kids "do as I do, not as I say," is an important to grasp.   Kids understand hypocrisy, even if they can't say it.

I no longer have these weekly shrieking telephone calls from parents or irate students in my office screaming irrationally.   I do, however, sometimes find myself at the end of the telephone or in a conversation that is equally emotionally charged.   The stakes are certainly different, but I'm still surprised when the insults start to fly when someone wants something.   I might have missed this lesson in education, but I still operate in my grandmother's world that "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar."

Most days I have the opportunity to observe adults who teach girls good citizenship by being a role model.  I watch adults adeptly defuse disappointments, frustrations, and tough social interactions by their gently encouraging all the girls in their care.   It is a rare occasion when I see adults who volunteer their time to do this work make missteps with the girls.    But I do want to be sure all who do this work are taking the girls' best interest at heart and their actions speak to whom they are.   Because of the importance of what you do, we owe it to the girls to only have adults whose actions speak louder than words about who they are, and the role models they provide to the girls we have the privilege to work with.

Thanks for all you do.   I share the relief you surely feel to have the cookie program behind you and look forward to the fun we will have this spring and summer spending time with girls, shaping their values and attitudes of the world they live in.



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