I caught a commercial a couple of weeks ago where the dad gets frustrated with an intermittant cable signal and slams his coffee table. His toddler daughter imitates him. Then, the story follows the daughter as she grows up pushing everyone around, getting kicked out of school, taking up with a guy with too many facial rings and having a baby. The commercial closes with dad holding his leather-clad grandbaby and looking dismayed. The announcer tells us that if we don't want our grandsons wearing dog collars, we'd best switch from cable to whatever they're selling (sorry, missed that part!).
I thought that was humorously absurd in the way that most commercials are, until my kids came home from school that evening with reports on their friends' reactions to the Ravens' loss. One friend threw the remote control at the television, breaking the remote. Another friend pounded a hole in the wall with his fist, and a third friend threw, and broke, a glass.
I spend the majority of my time working with organizations to help their employees deal with conflict productively and self-regulate their emotions so that they can manage their employees respectfully and focus productively on their work. I can only assume that in 15 years I'll have lots of business: 14 year olds who cannot self-regulate become adults who scream at employees, say things they regret in the heat of the moment, and are unable to focus in meetings.
What will you teach your children by your reaction to the Superbowl this Sunday? They're watching us all the time . . .