Patricia, “Be a good example. What they see is their norm and they will copy!” Tip #9
Patricia’s tip #9, “Be a good example,” was an ever present philosophy for me, I was a good example! I took the job very seriously, albeit too seriously at times.
I remember learning, “Your kids will do what they see, not what you say.” That was a scary concept to me. For one example, I was a smoker until Michael was age 10. I was terrified he would smoke, given the example I provided.
As with my parents, I pleaded he never try smoking. I cautioned him with every cigarette I lit. My parents begged the same. I knew it wouldn’t work, but I did it anyway.
Fortunately I did quit, a top decision in my life! I am ever thankful to know Michael did not pick up smoking!
Example is everything. We do teach them what is “normal” by the example we set. Our example does establishes their normal. As in the case with door slamming, as in the case with everything!
If I slam doors, Michael would grow to believe slamming doors is acceptable. If I slept with random men, did drugs at the kitchen table, had the language of a foul sailor, he would believe those things also to be normal.
Example is so deep! Would you believe, I actually thought all Dads were passed out on the living room floor? I was not ashamed. My friends and I just stepped over him and went to my room. I completely thought that was normal!
From the simple things to the not-so simple things, what we show them becomes how they live. Take for example a towel. If I had a home with only hand towels, my son would dry himself with hand towels. He would never even look for a bath towel. Michael would not know of, or come not to expect, anything other than a hand towels. If my standards are low in the home, he will likely settle for the same as an adult.
When the day came that Michael did uncover a large, plush bath towel, he might think it too elaborate, unnecessary, hoity toity. He might inquire what it was to be used for. He may even think those who use them are ridiculous.
It is a great deal of pressure to hold high standards, particularly when you were raised with a lower set yourself. As a child, we had a few “nice towels,” (they weren’t that nice even). I wasn’t allowed to use them! In fact, only within the last few years have I felt worthy of using the “nice towels” in my own home.
Increasing standards is worth the effort and elevation! Of course, not everyone can afford big, plush towels. Even if you can’t afford fancy linen, at a minimum tell your kids they are available. Teach them about the bigger, better towels. Encourage them to work hard, and to someday buy those grand towels! If you can’t access the finer things, make sure your kids know they are out there.
I was exhausted with setting, my best attempt at, a flawless example. Remember, no cursing, no screaming, no gossip or gambling, no drinking or drugs, no salt, and no door slamming – a very tall order! I wanted all of those things for Michael’s future!
I told myself, I would behave impeccably for 15 years. I secretly made this commitment to Michael, to myself. I’m not sure why I decided on 15 years, but that’s what I decided. I speculated if I could set a solid example, hold my shit together, for 15 years, Michael would have a concrete foundation.
Maybe less would do, but 15 seemed to have done the trick for us! I’m far less perfect these days!!