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“Do As I Do” List

January 19th, 2011

When you think about all of the things in your life that you are thankful for, hopefully it is a very long list. And when it comes to our children, there is truly so much that makes us smile. But have you ever thought about being grateful for the person you strive to be because of your children?

I love my parents dearly, but I was a child in the fifties when “Do as I say and not as I do!” was a standard philosophy of parenting. Fortunately, times have changed, and many parents have chosen alternative approaches to parenting. I know I tried my best to be honest and fair when communicating with my children, but the communication we have with our children does not necessarily leave the impact that we hope for.

My children are adults now, and I am about to become a grandmother for the first time. And as I wonder what type of parent my daughter will be, I find myself reflecting… how many traits did I assimilate from my parents and pass along to my own children unknowingly, even though I tried to overcome the “do as I say and not as I do” approach? This takes genuine self-evaluation, and I have come to realize that this is extremely important throughout our parenting journey.

If I did not have children, I might not be looking so closely at my own character traits. However, I can now look back and say with all certainty that parents’ behaviors are an integral part of parenting and highly contribute to the values that children carry with them into adulthood. Children grow up in an environment where they are constantly exposed to their parents’ values, choices, feelings, attitudes, opinions, interactions, reactions, etc. And, in spite of everything we try to teach our children, our behaviors ultimately reveal to them what we think is important. So, if we want our children to be the best they can be, we must also try to be the best we can be as individuals.

My suggestion is to make a “do as I do” list. Think about the values you believe are important for your children to learn. Start compiling a list and put it on the refrigerator. Then, start with the first thing on your list and observe yourself for a couple of days… Are your behaviors modeling this value that you think is important for your children to learn? If so, put a check next to it and move on to the next thing on your list. If not, do some problem solving and try to determine probable causes and solutions. Check the list daily and continue to add to it as time passes. It’s a process, but a rewarding one for everyone in the long run. Children allow us to see ourselves in a way that no others can. You’ll find that both you and your children will continue to grow as individuals who have self-respect and respect for others.

Here are just a few examples to think about:

Value: Do you want your children to value the importance of being respectful of others by learning to use “indoor” voices when it is appropriate to do so?
Behavior: However, do you find yourself yelling out requests and/or the names of family members in your own home?
Solution: It takes patience to stop what you are doing and walk over to someone to speak to him or her instead of yelling from where you are. It also gives you an opportunity to give a hug, kiss, high-five, or pat on the back… benefits of communicating face-to-face. (Add patience to the list!)

Value: Do you want your children to value the importance of being respectful to others by learning to be punctual?
Behavior: However, do you too often find yourself running late?
Solution: Be realistic about how long it takes you to do things and plan to leave enough time to calmly get to meetings, appointments, friend’s homes, etc. on time. Becoming more punctual involves both the self-discipline of not getting sidetracked with unnecessary endeavors when you are expected somewhere at a certain time and the willingness to overlook unfinished chores to get where you need to be. (Add self-discipline and adaptable to the list!)

Value: Do you want your children to be confident and have self-respect?
Behavior: However, do you find yourself speaking negatively about yourself in front of them? … Whatever criteria you use to criticize yourself, children will most likely use those criteria to criticize themselves as well.
Solution: Put conscious effort into focusing on your positive attributes and avoid complaining about your failures. (Add positive attitude to the list!)

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