10 June 2013

On Being a Role Model

  

You only have to watch your 2 year old deftly manoeuvre around his or her play kitchen, to realise that those first years of life have been spent watching your every move and subsequently playing them out - with amazing accuracy! 


As parents, we have by far the greatest influence over our children

I find this a fascinating but also rather frightening prospect - some days I don't feel mature enough to be anyone's role model, least of all my own children!  But as mine grow up and teeter on the edge of the teenage years, I am beginning to realise (probably a little late in the day!) how crucial 'setting an example' really is. 


Am I a good enough role model?


Have you ever cringed at your child's behaviour, only to discover that the characteristic you are citing as less than favourable, has probably been learnt from you?  Sometimes as I look at my girls, it's like staring into a mirror - that disrespectful tone, critical remark or impatient response.....that's me and I don't like it! 
Of course I have another side of me - the one I show to friends, acquaintances or colleagues - the kind, jovial and positive me.  But why do I reserve this for 'outsiders' and not model this behaviour where it really matters - in my home, to my loved ones?


Actions speak louder than words

We've probably heard this saying countless times and in many different situations, but when it comes to parenting, it's so true!  On average, I probably spend 8 hours a day nagging, cajoling, reprimanding or shouting, when perhaps if I modelled the behaviour I wanted to see more of, this exhausting routine might all become unnecessary.  It also might save our neighbours from being subjected to my raucous screech at 7am!

We all become our mothers in the end

Yes it's a trite piece of British cynicism but look at yourself and tell me that this isn't true.  Men are even advised to look at their future mother-in-law before they agree to marry the woman of their dreams! Joking aside, being the mum of two girls, this is a huge responsibility - one that I should probably be taking more seriously.  As their mother, it's my job to demonstrate how to be a dedicated wife, loyal friend and all-round good person.  Will there ever be a greater role in life?


The saving grace

Well actually there are two which spring to mind:

1) That I had a fantastic role model in my own Mum and so there's hope for me yet
2) Statistics show that from the age of 6, most boys start to model their dad's behaviour. Phew!




Have you ever considered what kind of role model you are being? 
Can you see some of  your good and (dare I say it?) bad traits, being copied by your children?


Linking this post up with Sarah Miles' Monday Club 
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24 comments:

  1. This made me think about a conversation in the car last week between Son No1 and OH. I was doing the driving and somebody over took me, this makes OH VERY irate ( dont bother me in the least) and he started moaning in a very loud, downright rude way about it ( add a bit more and some beyond how bad you think this may be) ......only for Son No1 to laugh that he had learnt how not to be intolerant and how to swear when he was little just by sitting in the car beside OH.....
    Out of the mouth of babes....except babe is now 28

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    1. And there we have a prime example Elaine! Obviously I don't think it's all down to us because a certain amount is personality but we really must be careful.

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  2. Fantastic post, so well put, and very timely for me as I spent the weekend thinking that I really need to work on how I deal with the kids to try nake our home more positive.

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    1. I don't think it's an overnight solution but long-term I think we will see positive results. I also think they mirror how we are with our spouse - now there's a challenge!

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  3. Bar a couple of small things which aren't in my nature anyway, I'd happily be like my mother. She's awesome. I can see from my toddler that some characteristics are innate and some are very much learned. There's something so bizarre about seeing your mannerisms mirrored - but hard work too as I was brought up to question and challenge whatever I wanted ... argh!!

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    1. Me, my sister and my mum all have very similar mannerisms and sayings - funny isn't it?!

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  4. Great post and yes, I definitely see some less desirable traits in my children that I recognise in myself. It's not always easy being the role model we want to be / imagined we'd always be and I think it's good to stop and take stock sometimes of how well a job we are doing and whether there's any room for improvement :-).

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    1. Always room for improvement in my case!

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  5. I'm what a lot of people might call one of life's 'sensitive' creatures. I find offence in the most innocuous comment, despite my better judgement telling me to stop being a basket-case, and I used to get really cross when my Husband and MIL would tell me to stop saying sorry so much, or else DD would pick up on it.

    Well, lo and behold, they were right and my daughter is now (if it's possible) even more sensitive than I and I can see that I've done actual damage to her by not reigning myself in a little more. I regret it deeply and all I can do now is try to lessen the effects by toughening her up in other ways and trying to be a bit more happy-go-lucky myself.

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    1. I do think a certain amount is in our make-up or genetics (which might be where she gets it from) but a big part is certainly learnt behaviour -who else have they got to copy? Quite a responsibility isn't it?!

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  6. You and I are so similar, its hilarious. I had a post rather similar in mind to write, about how my daughter is mirroring my bad traits, and that if I'm really honest, I have to look hard at myself when I get frustrated with her behaviour. Parenting is such a good life trainer, isn't it, for ourselves above all. Its oh so tough, but I suppose we can't be too hard on ourselves and remember that the most imp thing is to keep short accounts (say sorry and make up sooner rather than later) and to demonstrate forgiveness and owing up to our own faults. That is one of the most imp. traits we need to share, isn't it? Thanks S, brill little post as usual!

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    1. Yes Siobhan, I am really trying my hardest to model the saying sorry and admitting that we are less than perfect ourselves. As they get older, it's all the more obvious when we get it wrong, I think. Thanks for commenting x

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  7. Great post, Suzanne, lots of interesting points. I often hear myself in the things my boys say, either their attempts at 'parentese' with babies or with certain phrases and it makes me cringe. I think, though, that in the same way you say you reserve your 'best behaviour' for the outside world, children do the same; my children are better behaved for other people than they are for me. I'm hoping that's down to their security and the confidence in unconditional love that we've instilled in them; knowing it's OK to show every facet of ourselves to our immediate family and they'll love us anyway (even if they need therapy when they're older :)) x

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    1. Oh I can certainly related to that - everyone thinks my children are absolutely delights! If they were a fly on the wall in our house, they would think very differently so I guess that's also learnt behaviour....

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  8. Very nice of you to be positive about my influence but I think you and your sister turned out as well as you did IN SPITE OF me rather than because of me! You Dad had a bit to do with it too. It's a joint effort - even with the girls I think. Much more difficult for single parents who tend to be really hard on themselves when their kids go wrong. I know some model parents who have wayward children and the other way round. I think these are the exception though and you are absolutely right as to who has the biggest influence in shaping our character.

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    1. Yes I know that it's not all about copying our parents because as they get older, obviously other influences come in to play....that's when it gets hard!

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  9. Great post, and it has crossed my mind before! Usually as A shout 'stop shouting!' or tell my kids to pick up their stuff when mine is piled high somewhere...

    I do hear my kids mimicking the less favourable traits...hoping they'll find some good ones to copy too.

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    1. Yes I do have a tendency to tut at the state of their bedroom and feel slightly embarrassed as I walk in and realise the state of mine!

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  10. Certainly makes it easier to hold the moral high ground if you are being a good role model. Our room is currently a tip- due to being between wardrobes, and also in the middle of sorting out boxes and boxes my MILs belongings after she passed away. It makes it much harder to nag about my teens room when she can rightly say that my room is a mess too- even if I have a far more valid reason!

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    1. I'm probably living in complete denial thinking that by me having a tidy room, The Teenager will suddenly become a neat-freak!

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  11. Great post. I feel like this every day when i watch my 3yo and her behaviour. They say you should practice what you preach and it's true. Not always easy though!

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  12. This is so true! I like to think of myself as a good role model, but all of my worst behaviour takes place at home, often in front of my kids and often aimed at them. Sadly I see the worst of myself in my eldest. Maybe it's time he was copying his dad?! I think my daughter gets the best of me, which is probably a good thing. We dance together and I encourage her in everything she does. I think in terms of body image, health and fitness I'm setting her a good example.

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  13. I am with you on this one. Sometimes I find myself telling off my eldest for an inappropriate phrase or expression to then realise it's me he learnt it from. Problem is, we are not perfect and it would be impossible to put on a persona in front of your family 24/7. Emotionally charged situations just wouldn't allow it!! I think I try to be the best role model I can be. To teach them: treat others how you would like to be treated. Kindness, compassion and manners are up there too. But once in a while I might slip up and my little sponges are right there ready to soak it up! No ones perfect I guess x

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  14. Agree! Some times i feel a slap across my face when I realized my son is following either me or my husband. I watch what I say and check my behaviour, now that my son is older he will go "Mum! You are not supposed to say/do xxxx " hahah~

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