24 March 2016

What Cycling Can Teach Your Children

I have no children and don't plan on having any.  Still, I sometimes look at one thing or another and wonder what children or young adults might learn from it.  Perhaps that is a consequence of my being an educator.

(By the way, it's also one of the reasons why I find the Trump presidential campaign so abhorrent.  How can you teach your kids about honesty, respect and just plain good behavior, when someone like The Donald is one of the wealthiest people in the world and might become the most powerful?)

Anyway, I would like to think that if I had kids, they would learn a lot of good things from seeing me ride to work, and for pleasure.  I am sure that there are kids who are learning all sorts of great lessons from parents who ride bikes.    One might be simply that you're never "too old" to ride a bike.  Another is that you can have fun while doing (or getting to) the things you have and need to do.

From Kidical Mass Rockville

The author of the Bike to Work Blog once wrote about the "5 Things Your Bike Commute Teaches Your Children".  I might have come up with numbers 1,2, 3 and 5, or things like them.  But I'm not sure that I would have come up with number 4 unless I'd had kids.

Anyway, here they are:

  1. Think outside the box. Riding bike to work is powerful because so few others are doing it. When you bike to work, you are teaching your children that there is more than one way to do something–even something as mundane as the daily commute. In a world in which the jobs your kids will have haven’t been created yet, the ability to “Think Different” is a powerful key to success.
  2.  Be Frugal. We try to teach our children to understand value, thrift, and priorities but the average American family spends more on transportation than on food. For most of us, that means a car that sits in an expensive garage all night and in an expensive parking spot all day. By not spending a lot of money on a car, I am powerfully teaching my children what I value.
  3. Be Active. We tell our children to eat right and be active (“go out and play!”), but we gain five to eight pounds each year. Many of us exercise before the kids get up or after they go to bed and they don’t see it. When you ride a bike your kids see you leave and come home under your own power; they know you value exercise and a healthy, active body.
  4. Be Proactive and Self-Reliant. We want our children to anticipate problems and opportunities and we strive to empower them. When my daughter once asked why I was a little late getting home, I told her that that I had a flat tire. She seemed surprised and asked how I got home; I responded that I had “fixed it.” Watching her face as she processed the lesson that such a thing was fixable was priceless.
  5. Tread Lightly. Regardless of your views on climate change, the excesses of the 20th century have to be recognized as unsustainable. I don’t consider myself to be a tree-hugger, but I want my children to recognize that we must consume less and think more. By choosing a bicycle over a car, I am demonstrating an awareness of my impact on the planet that I know my children are absorbing.

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