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The Fun Boy Three/Bananarama School of Parenting

5 November 2015

juhgfsa11 (500x287)In 1982 the Fun Boy Three and Bananarama (left) released a song entitled “It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it.” ( ) It proved to be a big hit.

It was actually a cover of a much earlier jazz swing song sung by Jimmie Lunceford, Harry James and Ella Fitzgerald from 1939

_85950434_96c68d78-5615-4f26-8daf-47fa723cad50 (600x338)jon-murphyI was reminded again of these words when at the funeral of PC Dave Phillips (right) the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, Sir Jon Murphy (left) said in his tribute: “Dave Phillips epitomised everything that we aspire to be – a professional force with a human touch. It is not so much what we do as police officers, it is how we do it… and Dave Phillips did it well.”

I observe that we put an awful lot of effort into shaping and influencing the lives of others whether children or those who need controlling or caring for in wider society. It seems to me that find ourselves pushing harder and harder as we struggle to have the effect we desire.

As parents we may deploy more stick than carrot as we try to inculcate discipline, diligence and good behaviour, but so often we experience diminishing returns. Children will pick up more from the way we speak and act with them that what we are saying to them! In my experience when we are stressed and tense that is what our children learn and remember from us. That is why a negative interaction with a child can quickly escalate.

However, when we show trust, interest, compassion, humour and appreciation we pass very different things onto our children with quite different results.

I have learnt that children may learn from the things we have taught them, they also learn much more from the way we have treated them.

If only I could remember this in my own actions when I am anxious and stressed!

I am sure that Police Officers, Teachers and others in authority have found the same to be true.

Could it be that the way we behave is more important that what we are teaching – that may be a little over stated? But certainly the way we behave gives credibility and influence to what we say and thoughtless or bad behaviour undermines our messages.

I know that when I have started on a negative approach and sensed that I am getting nowhere it is hard to change tact but pushing ever harder is fruitless and a track of despair.

So I have begun to realise that values such as hospitality, love, trust and empathy are not just soft marks of benevolence they are true effective influences in our relationships and society.

As Ella, Bananarama and the Fun Boy Tree sang it: “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it, that’s what gets results.”

So with spare the rod proverbs ringing in my ears, I don’t want to argue that we deny principles and making a stand but I know as a parent, pastor, activist and observer of the news we need more than one strategy. I have learnt that we way we behave and values must be much more to the fore and not just be an optional extra.

If you think this is a council for just being nice – you have misread me. It is an appeal for considering first and recognising the primary role of or attitudes, behaviour in all we do.

Of course this path is risky and costly as the family of Dave Phillips will tell you. It is equally a path we can aspire to but never fully achieve, but children and society will learn from our failures and sacrifices as much as our successes.

So for one final time let’s hear it from the top:

“It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it, that’s what gets results.

I thought I was smart but I soon found out

I didn’t know what life was all about

But then I learnt I must confess

That life is like a game of chess.

“It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it, that’s what gets results.”

Graham Brownlee, November 2015

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