I love this quote from Brene Brown that I found in an interview with her for the Washington Post:
“Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?”
Isn’t that a great question? It makes you think about how you want to be in the world as a role model for your child.
- What are your values?
- Have you given thought to what you want to model to your children?
- Do you model kindness, love, patience, acceptance, vulnerability, forgiveness, happiness, gratitude, compassion, empathy, authenticity, and courage?
- Tolerance for those who are different from us, to always do your best, to show up with a good attitude, to treat others with respect?
- Are there other things you want to embody?
Children pay attention to your actions and examples–not just to what you say.
As a graduate student in Marriage and Family Therapy,* I find myself thinking a lot about what makes a good parent. I think being self-reflective, loving, having the ability to apologize, to forgive, to be always learning, feeling grateful, having a good attitude, being in a loving and supportive relationship with my partner…these are some of the positive aspects of parenting that enhance my children’s lives as well as my own.
I know in the past, having experienced Parental Alienation, I had a tendency to fear losing my children if I provided them with repercussions, structure, and chores. I still deal with this fear on occasion. This is, I think, a common feeling under the circumstances, but it does not help my children if I act from this fear. I need to be the parent they need, not what they want or not what they have learned to manipulate me into being (and they don’t do this intentionally or consciously–this is a learned behavior that my ex and I have played into). This has been a journey for me since I’ve experienced so much loss in my life–no wonder it’s a trigger for me.
So, how would you like your children to be as adults?
Strong, kind, compassionate, responsible, healthy, and happy? Is that what you embody?
Would you like them to have loving and healthy relationships with their partners? Do you have this?
Would you like them to be fearless and pursue their passions? Do you do this?
Do you want them to be less self-involved and think of others more? Do you do this?
Would you like them to be healthy, exercise, and eat healthy things? Do you do this?
By the way, the “do you do this?” is not meant as a judgment or as a means to get down on yourself. It is only meant to spur on self-reflection and positive change.
You teach your kids how others are supposed to treat you–and by proxy, them. Children also watch how you treat others. There are so many aspects of this, that it would take pages and pages to elaborate on how to be the adult your child needs–not wants–needs!
Are you a good role model for your children?
Do you embody what you hope to impart to your kids?
Are your actions congruent with your words?
You don’t have to be perfect, I think it all starts with coming from a place of love and learning.
*Since writing this post (in spring 2014), I have graduated with a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy – to add to my Masters in Psychology. A study of relationships with others combined with a study of the relationship you have with yourself is a winning combination to help you and others succeed in this life.