I have been thinking a great deal lately about how incredibly influential a parent’s behavior is on their child. How often do you think about which parent a child reminds you of, or think just how similar a child is to a parent? If you’re a parent, how often do you hear your child imitating things you say and do?
I find more and more that the behavior I model for my children is much more influential on them than the rules I set up for them. Yikes! What a great deal of pressure! I can tell my children not to yell, but what if I yell? I can tell them to be kind, but what if I lose my patience? I can teach them how to be friendly, but what if I don’t even acknowledge the boy checking out my groceries?
So really, I just wanted to say, I’m working on me. I’m trying to be the person I want my children to be. I’m working at modeling for them what is important to me. I’m trying to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk.
This week I’ve really noticed how I speak to them and to others. I’ve been working on speaking respectfully to them. Talking respectfully seems obvious. I wouldn’t say I’m disrespectful, but I can tend to not be very respectful. For instance, adding please to requests, even when they’re time sensitive. Looking them in the eye when I talk to them. Making sure to thank them when appropriate. Asking their opinion on certain things. Speaking in a calm voice at all times. Considering their requests, even when I feel like laughing at them.
As far as speaking to others, I feel I am usually courteous and kind. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly friendly. I think as a young woman, I learned it was better not to be too friendly. I think I must have the kind of face that says, “Talk to me strangers! Tell me about your lives! Tell me all your troubles! I’m a great listener, and I want to be your friend!” Often when I was out alone, I would hear people’s life stories. I learned to avoid eye contact and to keep small talk to a minimum so I could go about my business. This probably sounds kind of strange, but its true. Now, though? I have more time to linger and talk. I also have the perfect excuse to go if need be (the baby is hungry, it’s nap time). So, I’m working on being friendlier. You know what? I like being friendly! I feel like I’m coming back to the person I used to be. I don’t want my children to be afraid to smile and speak to others, because they kind of are now. “Stranger awareness” is something I don’t think we’ll have too much trouble with. We’re completely on the other end of that.
Anyhow, that’s just what I want to work on now. There will certainly be more things I need to watch for in the future, but for now, I just wanted to point out what a terrifying and amazing opportunity parents have to model behavior.