Our kids are watching us all the time. They even emulate us when we least expect it. This can be for better or for worse. Sometimes it’s hard to see our imperfections reflected back to us. Other times, it’s flattering when our positive qualities, like creativity or a love of reading, shine through in our kids.
Often, the times I am most mad at my boys, are when they are reflecting back to me my own challenging personality aspects. For instance, I am an anxious person by nature so when my boys feel this energy from me, they express it in crazy ways. While I internalize this energy, they externalize it. They run, wrestle, kick and physically fight. Oddly, this does very little to calm my nerves. I have yet to figure out how to break this pattern so for now, I accept it as much as I can.
Since what we do as parents truly does affect our children, we can also use this to our advantage. Manners are important in our house and I make sure to model them as much as I remind the boys to use them. Being grateful matters deeply to me and I try to incorporate gratitude into each of our days. This could be shown through a simple ‘thank you’ prayer at meals or verbally acknowledging something positive about another person.
My point isn’t to make you stop being yourself or to become overly critical of every word, step or action you take. Of course, how you live your life shapes your kids, but the nice thing is, if they truly don’t like something about how you parent or live, they will have the opportunity to change this as adults. Think about all the ways you have or haven’t incorporated how you were parented. Even the bad stuff has worked to your advantage. How many times have you thought “I will NEVER do _______, like my mom/dad,”? And then you didn’t, and it felt great.
Maybe my boys will skip over manners and gratitude entirely. If this is the case, I hope I’m just too old realize it.
Written By Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent