The person you want your child to be …

I can think back on times when I exhibited really bad behavior, horrible moments of regret. Moments that I knew my children were watching me and I knew my behavior was sending the wrong message, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself.

It’s not so easy to think back on moments when I have really been at my best. It’s not that I haven’t had any, but my memory in those times is of the reaction of others around me … the smiles on their faces. I can remember taking great pride in other’s accomplishments more easily than my own, especially in the accomplishments of my kids.

It’s difficult when the amygdala is hijacked, and you find yourself in a fight or flight or freeze situation that you have already reacted to even before your brain could be engaged, to remember “hey, the kids are watching.”  Yet it is in those times that we leave the biggest impression. As Rudyard Kipling put it, “if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs …” you’re pretty darn amazing. 

So maybe I set some bad examples along the way, but I hope and pray that I set some good ones as well … like picking for your life mate a person who exhibits extraordinary good values and integrity.  Not always an easy find. My boys are still looking for a “girl just like the girl that married dear old Dad”.  I am very glad that I did not have to try to raise my boys by myself. I am proud to have always showed my devotion to their mom (even though she makes that easy).

So I can only hope that in this mix of good examples and bad examples that I demonstrated for our children, that they follow more of the good than the bad. These days I try to keep in the forefront of my mind that my kids, my wife, my coworkers, my boss, my clients, the world is watching and learning from my example. I want to leave the world a better place than it was when I came into it.

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The focus is on you

Ever thought about being a star … all that fame, paparazzi chasing you everywhere?  Would it be nice to be the center of attention?  Or maybe you are just the opposite.  Keep the camera off of me, I’m too uncomfortable when people are looking at me.

Here’s the breaking news. You are on stage, every time you are with someone, but most especially in front of your kids. Do you want to see what a child’s home life is like?  Go sit in their preschool classroom for a couple of hours. Have a child that is out of control?  Have a home that is out of control?

Remember when you were on your best behavior whenever you were with your spouse before you married them?  Do you wish sometimes you could have the person you were dating instead of the one you married, even though they are the same person?  Why do we treat complete strangers better than the people we love the most?

When I come home, I want to be able to turn off Person Wonderful and just let my hair down and be me. Sounds wonderful. My suggestion, live by yourself. If there is another person in that house – parent, child, spouse, roommate, whoever – you have a responsibility to be on your best behavior with them and in front of them – always. Because you are always setting the example. Even leaving to go off by yourself is sending a message. Talking on the phone?  They are hearing every word you are saying.

So when can you just be yourself?  Here’s a clue. Be a fully integrated human being. That means someone with integrity. Be trustworthy.  Be loyal. Be helpful. Be friendly. Be courteous. Be kind. Be obedient (yes, I said obedient. Look it up.) Be cheerful. Be thrifty. Be brave (you know, like in the movie). Be clean. Be reverant. Then you can be yourself all the time.