Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Power of Example

Our firstborn added new layers of delight to our evenings when he entered our lives. My husband and I would sit around watching him do the funniest things. The party really picked up when he learned to crawl and walk and then dance around the living room. He was really so cute.

The mood changed a little when in this mobile age I found my "supposedly napping" boy having a grand time sitting in our kitchen sink with the water running.
Little indiscretions were acceptable because he was just learning how the world works around him. BUT a few months later when the learning turned into testing me, I remember thinking, "He needs discipline. And I didn't sign up for that!" I signed up for a cute little Munchkin who would bring me joy...not a curious child who would find trouble when I least expected it. 

One of the most difficult endeavors I have ever attempted is raising children. And because I need a lot of practice at it, we keep adding more to the family (ha ha ha...that's not really why). In each new phase of parenthood, I find myself wondering what I am doing. My husband and I do lots of things right. But in a few areas, we have been found wanting. We need more positive parenting habits and skills. And those shortcomings are precisely the ones that our children pick up on. And they test us. By displaying the same selfish behavior that we do. And we are caught with the age old, "do what I say and not what I do!"

So what happens when my children get older? Will they pick up on my driving behaviors? If I juggle distractions while driving, won't they mimic my behavior? Since it is possible to talk on the phone while driving and not get in a wreck, won't they think that they can, too? The same goes with eating my breakfast or lunch on the road. Or cutting corners in my rural neighborhood. Or not turning on my blinker because no one will see it anyway? 

My children absolutely will pick up on my driving behaviors. The good ones and the not so good. Eek. So, I've got eight and a half more years to perfect my act before the first learner's permit is issued in my family. It doesn't matter that I've been driving for almost 20 years. My kids won't value that experience for what's it's worth. 

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