Posts Tagged ‘role model’

Leading By Example

Have you ever done something and then thought, “Hey, I hope my son/daughter doesn’t see me doing this”?

For me it’s usually something related to food. We have a gate between our kitchen and lounge, and I can occasionally be found hiding in the kitchen, scoffing some chocolatey treat. Who am I hiding from? My daughter!

I’m no role model when it comes to good eating habits. And although I do my best to ensure she eats well now, I’m waiting for the day when she spots me sneaking that extra piece of cake for dinner and thinks, “Hang on, how come Mama gets to have dessert before dinner?”

I also have a habit of walking around when I eat. Life can get pretty hectic, and snacking on the go is sometimes the only way to ensure I do eat. But I expect my daughter to sit down when she eats, and I won’t give her a snack to munch on while she runs around the house. Largely this is because I object to vacuuming more than once a day!

But seriously, why does she have to do things that I don’t? Obviously, I am an adult and there are many things I do that she can’t, but in most cases shouldn’t we be following the same “rules”?

See, I’ve been thinking lately about how I want my daughter to act as she gets older.

I’d like her to be well-mannered, respectful and affectionate. I’d prefer if she did not throw tantrums, and listened when I asked her to do something. I’d like her to take responsibility for her actions, and not be a ‘sore loser’. I also do not want her to use inappropriate language, and I certainly don’t want her to think that resorting to violence is a means to an end.

And of course, I’d like her to eat well, and have a healthy, balanced diet!

That’s a lot to expect from a 2 year old. But I think sowing the seeds of these behaviours now is far easier than trying to teach an older child new ways of behaving. Later on, she will learn the significance of what she’s saying and doing. But for the time being, I’m quite happy for her to simply model what I do, except in the food department!

That basically means I need to ensure I act in ways that I would like her to copy. If I want her to say please and thank you, then I should say please and thank you. If I want her to say sorry because she accidentally (or intentionally!) hurt somebody, then I should do the same. Even though it might not mean anything to her at this age, I feel it’s important to set up good habits for later on.

I’ve found it works beautifully thus far, almost too well! The other day her cousin bumped into her and she apologised!

On the other hand, I should refrain from doing anything that I don’t want her to emulate. If I drop four letter bombs in front of her, I expect that these words will make a reappearance, either immediately, or in the following days! And, as I’ve found through my own childhood memories of advertising jingles, “unlearning” something is an impossible task!

Of course, she will encounter other influences than myself in her life. But hopefully I’ll be able to steer her in the right direction, and later on, she’ll make her own choices based on the foundations I laid. For the time being, I’m going to enjoy being the centre of my little girl’s world, and try to live up to her expectations.

It’s all about me

Thankyou papoose, mummymanda, marcal and even Riani for inspiring this post!  I was struggling with one yesterday, it just wasn’t going where I wanted it to, but this has whipped off the keyboard this morning.

I define myself. 

I am the only person who chooses what I do and how I do it.

I make myself the person I want to be.

I had a particularly liberating experience in my second year of teaching.  I realised I could let the 14 year old student have the last word.  It sounds silly but those of you who have dealt with a teenager will know what I mean, when they go on and on and keep answering back and you really just don’t want to let them win because they’re whining little so and sos who have no idea.  And in the middle of this I had an epiphany, let her finish and walked away.  Of course I kept her in at recess to deal with the original problem!  But I realised there are some conversations you don’t have to win, and I don’t want to be the adult trying to win against a kid.

The next experience was a much bigger deal during a fairly nasty situation I was involved in.  Someone was spreading things among a group of workmates and mutual friends.  I don’t blame them and understand why they were doing it, and everything they said was even true – from their perspective.  But of course there are at least two sides to every story and I desperately wanted to give mine.  I chose not to, because that’s not the person I want to be.  I don’t want to be someone who starts a public fight over something private.  So there are people out there who have what I think is an unfair view of me, but I made the decision to let it go because I’m the only one I have to live with.

Moving to a new town and joining a playgroup was interesting, new people, new ways of doing things, the only thing we have in common is having children.  I don’t do well in groups, I’m very self-conscious and never know what to do or say.  So I sat in a corner for a few weeks, then took a deep breath and went and played jigsaws with the kids.  Or voiced my opinion in a conversation.  Or even started a few! They’re a pretty good bunch although I don’t think of any of them as friends, but I don’t shape my behaviour to them, I shape it to what I feel like doing and what my kids need.

The online world is another adventure, so many chances to dip in and out of conversations, so many opportunities for misunderstandings.  And so many ways you can think you know someone then realise you don’t at all.  It’s very easy to worry.  Should I say this?  How will that be interpreted?  Who might be listening to that?  And it really forces us up against it.  I think all of us have ingrained ways of reacting – if my sister or friend said this, I would do that.  But now we’re not interacting with people who have the same set of cultural, emotional or family baggage we do.  We are used to using others as a barometer and adjusting our behaviour accordingly.  But on the internet you never know who is out there and how they perceive you, so you can’t use them as a guide.  You have to be completely sure of who you are and your position, and accept that sometimes people will misinterpret, and sometimes people just won’t like you.

I’m not talking about being inflexible.  I’ve changed my opinions many times through reading and thinking about what people are saying.  And definitely don’t be insensitive.  But both the least and the most I can do, is be as Deb as I can.  Don’t try to project an image of the way I would like to be, don’t say something because I think people will like it, don’t hold back because others might disagree, but be me.  If I don’t put me out there, how can I get anything genuine back?

It’s taken me many years to be able to articulate this, but now as a mother I find it even more important.  My daughters need strong role models, and I want them to be confident and happy in their own skin.  So I need to work very hard on myself, I am the one who has to look in the mirror, and I want to respect the person I see.