Sunday, May 30, 2010
Parenting by Example
I do, however, feel a sense of pride when I see my kids behave in certain ways and like to think I had something to do with it. I also know that the small victories I may achieve as a parent do not come from lecturing my kids as much as they come about by setting an example. Mind you, not everything I do is intentionally geared towards raising my girls to be the best people they can be. But, by striving daily to become the best version of myself, I realize I am modeling exactly that for them.
Children may not always listen to what you say, but oh boy, do they watch what you DO! Their values are, whether you like it or not, the values they have picked up from you. If you don´t lead them in the right direction by example, be assured society will, and that may not render the results you´re after.
My 6-year old surprises me often with statements that show me how much she observes how I deal with life.
“Mommies need to exercise to feel better.” (I was thrilled she didn´t say ¨to look better¨)
“You did that because you´re a good friend.” (I had stopped to offer a parent from her school to jump-start her car)
“Mommies have to read a lot to learn things.”
My kids are readers because I´m a reader, they enjoy the outdoors because I do, they enjoy time alone because I embrace solitude. I don´t tell them about it, I just do it and they watch – and emulate. And then, I´m a reader because my father is a reader (dare I say I´m a writer because he and my grandfather are writers), I enjoy exercise because I practiced sports with my dad when I was a kid and up into adulthood.
Of course there are other things I wish they didn’t emulate: my eldest is very emotional, as am I, and she says “trust me” more times a day than even I do! The little one likes to sleep in, like her mom, and she also marches to the beat of a different drummer (unfortunately, also different to the one I march to!).
You can´t really tell your kids to knock off the junk food if you´re piling it on your own plate. If your TV set is on all day to keep you company, your kids will learn silence is not ok, plus they will absorb the information you are tuning in to - be it useful or harmful. If you have regular outbursts of anger in front of them, if you can´t control yourself - don´t expect them to be even-tempered and polite.
I don´t mean to be coy about this, but … if you have young kids … know that they are watching you, even if you think they aren´t.
Become the best person you can be, and they will become the best people they can be. It really is that simple.
How do you parent by example?