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10/01/2012 / melgardener

In search of a good role model

I take my job as a role model for my children very seriously. Or, I did until I actually took a long, hard look at some of my actions and began to question my fitness for such a task.

As parents, it is vital that we ‘walk the talk’ as we know our children will observe and mimic our actions much more than our words, particularly if there is a discrepancy. I’ve seen all the usual examples – the parent who smacks their child while chanting “we do not hit”, the parent who crosses against the lights with children in tow (often with a level crossing just a few steps away).

In many ways I know I’m a good role model – I don’t swear around the children (or, I try very hard not to), as much as possible I try to model healthy eating habits (what they don’t know I eat after they go to bed doesn’t count). I am responsible, take ownership of my actions, apologise when necessary, and I’m reliable.

All good traits, you say? Well, yes.

But then there’s the flipside. For example…

The nights they sit at the kitchen counter for dinner while they watch me cook (or, more often, reheat) dinner and serve it, empty the dishwasher and re-stack it, check homework, unpack school bags, read and sign notes, as well as fetch drinks, cutlery and serviettes…all while gulping down mouthfuls of my own dinner.

The days I chastise them for their messy bedrooms then can’t move in my own office for fear of starting a paper avalanche.

The nights I put them to bed early citing a big day as the reason, then stay up until midnight working and wonder why I’m tired and grumpy in the morning.

The day I threw my daughter’s hairbrush in frustration…and it broke in half. Yet, if either of the girls threw something in anger or frustration they’d get a lecture in “using their words”.

I’m not proud of these things and I’d love for them never to happen. But I’m human. We are all human. It’s pointless to try and be perfect all the time. I console myself with the fact that these occurrences are mitigated by all the positive role modelling I do manage.

And I’m not too proud to admit that I made a mistake. I definitely don’t have a problem with confessing to the children that I wish I had handled a situation differently. In this way, I hope I’m modelling an acceptance of my human infallibility and how to learn from your mistakes. Or maybe, like lions on the hunt, they’ll sniff out my weaknesses, store them in the deep recesses of their brain, and bring them out to torment me when they are teenagers?

Are you a good role model? Do you have anything you’d like to do differently?

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