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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.

parenting teens

*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. 

Published by Nicole Nenninger

Nicole Nenninger MA Psychology, MA Marriage & Family Therapy Nicole is a coach (life and relationship), counselor, author and course instructor. She understands that the relationship you have with yourself reflects the overall quality of your life. In addition the relationship you have with yourself affects the relationship you have with your partner and with others. Nicole helps women in midlife who struggle with self-esteem and confidence, life purpose, life balance, motivation and direction, relationship issues, break-ups, and more. Nicole lives in a beautiful coastal town on Long Island, New York with her handsome husband and soul mate, 2 dogs and a cat. Her 4 children are young adults living their best lives. She loves running, reading, learning, kayaking, and going to the beach.

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  1. Through a lot of evaluation of my own childhood, I realized the old adage of “do as I say and not as I do” is totally false. As parents we are the benchmark for everything in our children’s eyes.

    1. We can learn a lot from our childhoods if we learn not to carry it around with us but instead put the burden down and examine the lessons we were meant to learn from it.

  2. Such a great question, and a thought-provoking way of thinking about parenting. When I think back on my parents, I think the behavior they modeled was more impactful than anything they could have told me. I have tried to keep this in mind raising my own kids.

    1. I just read that today! Great post Seana! There’s so many facets to parenting–I think it’s important too to recognize when we feel like we aren’t enough and compare ourselves to others. I read another person’s post today on how they felt “not good enough” –this will affect your parenting too.

  3. This is an AMAZING post. I think more than anything I’d like to model driven and happy, too. My mom was plenty driven, but happy? Oh no. And it made my childhood unhappy by default.

    1. That’s a great observation of your mother. And what a gift you have now to bring to your children–to be happy and to recognize it affects them if you’re not.

  4. I can’t say that I was the adult I wanted my children to grow up to be because I had my first two children before I allowed myself the time and experience to become an adult. I was fortunate to be able to bring my children up while still at home with my mother and all my siblings; and in that situation, there was enough love to make up for anything I lacked as a young mother. I sometimes wish I could start over so that I can have a greater bond with my children; and if I could, I would certainly follow the advice you give here because doing it this way, everybody grows.

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