It’s a common understanding that part of good parenting involves modelling good behaviours. Children are imitators, so you can’t tell them to do something but not do it yourself. The mentality of “do as I say, not as I do” is simply unacceptable. You have to lead by example because your children look to you as their role models, they learn how to behave, act and deal with life situations by watching you. If you want your kids to have good manners, show them by saying YOUR pleases and thank-yous. If you don’t want your kids swearing, don’t curse in front of them, even if a moron cuts in front of you and nearly side swipes your car. Your children are a reflection of you, in the emotional and behavioural sense. Effectively, you are on public display, open for view and imitation twenty-four-seven.
In writing all that, I can admit that I am not a great role model. I act on whims, with logical and rational reasoning often taking a backseat. I can be a sarcastic, pessimistic, undisciplined, glass-half-empty, stubborn type of person. My epitaph would probably read “Consistent in her inconsistencies”.
So I can’t really complain when my seven-year-old throws her wet towel on the floor or grumble when I have to unravel underwear from her inside out pants while sorting laundry. I can’t call her a slob because I would essentially be calling myself one, seeing I can’t adhere to my own rules.
I’m constantly nagging my kids to drink more water but I happily drink coffee and tea instead. Talk about being a hypocrite!
How can I scold my daughter for being a hoarder, tucking away her possessions and never being able to find anything when she is a by-product of my habits? My father in-law just the other day asked where the old relic of a juicing machine he gave me was, and seriously, it could have been misplaced in the linen closet for all I knew!
And when my toddler started to point his tiny finger at me and say, “I want you to do it right this minute young lady!”, who do I have to blame for that?
Like most parents, I make sure my children feel loved and supported, are well-fed, dressed in clean clothes, help with school readers, try to volunteer where I can, take them to social events and extra-curricula activities.
I know that I’m not a terrible mother, but I struggle to focus and I find it exhausting being mindful as a parent. Despite it all, I continue to try.
This week when I found myself with homework that tested my patience and ability, I was quick to chuck a self-pity party and throw in the towel. I had spat the dummy and thrown an embarrassing toddler tantrum. My daughter started homework that same week and when prompted, her responses fell between “I don’t want to do it” and “it’s too hard”. Coincidence much?
I had to dig deep and do some self-reflection. What was I teaching my kids? What effects were my actions having on them? Am I being the role model that I want to be? How am I shaping my children for the future?
If I want my daughter to face challenges with aplomb, to learn from mistakes and not be afraid of trying, to be resilient and persevere, I had to pull my finger out and set the example.
So I sat down, batted away the self-doubt and attempted to do my homework. I tried and failed multiple times. I practiced and practiced until I produced a piece that I felt content with. I had done my homework to the best of my ability. I gave it a go.
Not surprisingly, my daughter also decided to give her homework a go.
The results got me thinking… maybe I’ll become a vegetarian. Do you reckon my children will want to eat their veggies then?
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