It sounds like such a great parenting philosophy – modeling good behavior. Treat others as you want to be treated, and show those little hurricanes zooming around the house what it means to live consciously and kindly.
Show them what it means to be patient, to be kind, to be generous. Show them how to have a healthy relationship with food and fitness and technology. Show them how to be a happy, healthy, functioning person.
It’s what I strive for, and boy, I’m constantly falling short. I accidentally taught my kids that lamest and cruelest of humor- sarcasm – and it’s hilariously awful coming from my four year old.
I tell my six year old, who already wishes her curly/wavy, ash blonde hair was “straight and brown,” that she’s amazing exactly as she is – while I’m blow drying my own curls into submission and then adding waves with a flat iron. I tell my eight year old he’s done with electronics for the day, then reach for my laptop or check my email on my phone.
I lose my patience when they argue with each other about who gets to sit where, or who’s turn it is for whatever, and their bickering turns into yelling or gets physical, and then I’m shouting at them to stop shouting. If that’s not the definition of crazy town…
So while I love the theory of modeling good behavior, I find it really hard to actually do it. Because – spoiler – my behavior isn’t always worthy of emulating. Humbling stuff, and the reason that this approach to parenting, like any, can blow up right in your face. Consistency matters in most things, and this is no different.
Here’s the good news, though. No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes, and I’m sure I’m not the only mom out there to experience instant regret after flipping my lid and freaking out on my kids. And really, it’s good for my kiddos to see me lose it every once in a while, just so they can see how I pull it together again. There’s grace in that, somewhere.
And in my defense – and the defense of parents everywhere – kids have a knack for pushing buttons the way no one else can. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anyone beside my four year old who will tug on my arm and repeat, “Mom. Mom. Mommy. Momma. MOMMA,” over and over and oooooover again, completely ignoring my raised finger and brows and polite request for, “just a second, buddy,” until I finally lose it and snap, “WHAT?!”
There’s also the caveat that some rules are different for children than for adults. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you’re six and dying for mascara, or four and begging for another cookie, or eight and feeling the unfairness of “no more phone time” when I’m using mine, but it’s true.
So maybe the 80/20 rule applies here?
Because I’m proud of the way these little people are growing up. My heart swells when I see them do “the right thing,” even when they don’t know I’m watching. I’ll take that as proof that we aren’t doing half bad, that our best efforts to model good behavior – even when it’s only some of the time, even when it backfires because we can’t always do it right – are still doing the trick.
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