Wouldn’t you like to have a nickel for every time you’ve heard the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do,” coming from some parent’s mouth? Maybe it has even come from your own.
Whether we like it or not, we are role models for our kids, and trying to get them to behave in a way different from the way we demonstrate before them every day of their lives is not likely to happen. Not long ago, I heard a relative berating his daughter for bullying her younger brother. Although I didn’t condone the older child’s behavior, I could understand it as I had often seen her father bullying various members of the family to get them to do what he wanted.
Earlier the same week, he had told this very child that he would give her dog away if she got anything below a B on her next report card. Is it any wonder that this young lady decided to take the bullying techniques she saw her father use so effectively and see if she could make them work for her?
Bullying is only one place that we parents fall short in being good role models for our children. Most parents seem to think of lying as the unpardonable sin, at least when that sin is committed by one of their own children. The same parents think nothing of having a child lie and say they are not home when someone they don’t want to talk to calls on the phone. Or the child may hear one of his parents call in sick to work when the parent is actually planning to go golfing, or shopping, or just laze around home for the day. No wonder the child is confused when he decides to tell a lie and gets severely punished for it.
Most adults will respond that cheating is wrong when asked about it on a questionnaire, but come tax time, they don’t mind throwing in a few questionable deductions or claiming expenses that never occurred.
Parenting is a tough job, and one most of us need to examine a little more closely.
Maybe we should require parents to wear a “parent” badge or uniform at all times when they are parenting to remind them that they are being watched and listened to almost every minute of the day.
Even when your kids seem to be absorbed in a board game, or watching TV in another room, they don’t miss Dad’s explosive tirade when he talks about his least favorite politician’s latest deed.
They don’t miss Mom gossiping for an hour on the telephone with her best friend.
They don’t miss the sneering attitudes they see during dinner table conversations each evening when the family gathers to eat.
Are be being good role models for our kids? Do we lie, cheat, and bully them and expect them not to do the same? Do we tell them they shouldn’t smoke, drink, or do drugs, while doing those very things ourselves?
Remember that old saying about computers? “If you put garbage in, you get garbage out.”
The same thing is true about raising children. If we constantly model the wrong things in front of them, they aren’t magically going to turn into well-adjusted citizens when they become adults. Take a look at how you stack up as a role model for your children. If you don’t like what you see, do something about it today, and remind yourself often that parenting is the most important job you will ever have.