Very few youngsters have positive role models available to them when growing up in this day and age. What I want to do here is to lay down some qualities of a role model for children that you can either foster in yourself or outsource to a third party. Your children will be a lot better off for it. Please don’t outsource everything though.
The inspiration for this post came from comments I received on a previous post titled Does Your Childhood Affect Your Adulthood.
In the above mentioned post the consensus from everyone who responded was that we were pretty much all suffering from damages done in our childhoods and now the topic had been broached some sort of action has to follow.
Beyond recommending a Book called Parenting from the Inside Out I felt a dedicated post may be in order as well. Here we go.
Before starting the conversation I need you to have a good hard look at yourself and answer the question. Have you reached your own autonomy in your adult years?
As we learnt earlier if you are trying to parent but you have got a series of chips still on your shoulder (from your childhood) you are going to be spending a lot more time fighting yourself than parenting your children. Nine times out of ten you will not even understand where the battle is coming from.
Crazy mixed signal and inconsistency of parenting will do more harm them good. If you can’t deliver a consistent line of communication to your children don’t waste your efforts on anything else. It will be wasted.
Here are a few indicators you can look for if you are not sure how you are doing
• Can you kids relay back to you what they think your expectations are?
• Do you find yourself escalating out of control very quickly?
• Do certain triggers or people set you off?
• Have you just plain given up trying?
These are the types of indicators I am talking about, a consistent message will at least have a better chance of getting through to them.
Unwarranted outbursts of emotion don’t flatter anyone. According to the books I have read the emotions and over dependency thereof are areas strongly presented by the females out there. Whilst I agree that historically women may have been more adept at drowning in their own emotions times are changing fast and as I found out yesterday some men are just as capable of immature and ridiculous outburst of emotional insanity.
New Age mysticism or pro-choice colors have very little benefit when your son has a science project due in.
There is a book that has been recommended to me on the subject called Emotional Intelligence 2.0. If you have read it let me know if it is any good.
The problems with a lack of emotional intelligence is that you won’t be able to provide the consistency spoken of earlier and you will find yourself somewhat.
#3 Rational Thinking
Now the other end of the spectrum is rational thinking. If you spend too much of your time focused on the money or the physics of the situation rather than opportunity or fun to be had. Think Doctor Spock from Star Trek.
This type of thinking is apparently a lot more predominant in men.
Now the problems that you will have with over rationalizing everything is that flexibility will become difficult and children are not aligned with this way of thinking at all.
#4 Balance of Logic and Emotion
To have the best of both worlds; and to be the whole person that I know you want to be it means balancing out the right brain (emotions) and the left brain (logical/rationality).
The most common example of the unbalanced brain predicament is something I see very regularly. It is what I call a critical thinker. Someone who is hell bent of criticizing everything and everyone within site. They will sit in judgement permanently. Everyone is wrong and everything they do is sinister. These people themselves may never even take a moment of look inwards and spend even a moment in self-reflection.
Meditation and pretty much any effort you place on your spirituality will start you down the road of balancing your emotions with your logic. This is also a lesson you can share with your children. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to teach a young child how to curb those emotional tantrums? Make sure you teach yourself first though.
An important quality you need to show your kids is the ability to be flexible. Maybe some more problem solving skills are important here but definitely you want to be able to deal with adversity and bend your approach to still meet your goals.
Here is one example that comes to mind. Back in the dark ages (when I was married) we lived in a state where rain was rare. On the occasions that it did rain quite often the wife would let the kids not go to school. It was too hard for her to get them into the classroom when it was wet accord to her. Need I say to you that this is not the work of a good role model?
Listening is a skill that I would really love to be able to teach someone how to do. Plenty of people I meet struggle with interpreting any words that are spoken (not just from me but from everyone). The age of emails has taken over and listening skills has suffered. Perhaps our lack of freedom of speech due to the plague that is political correctness has also impacted on listening skills. What do you think?
Being listened to and being heard is something very important to all of us. When you know someone doesn’t listen to you it is very easy to just stop talking to them and isolate them.
IF you can recommend any good board games or family games to play with the kids to teach them listening skills let me know. The best I could come up with is that old game of Chinese whispers we used to play (probably outlawed now because it is not politically correct).
Now I think this one is the most important and also the hardest to achieve. Every trick that you know worked on you when you were a kid can’t be used (because they are all politically incorrect).
A lot of parents find themselves stuck in this rut between their past (the leftovers from their childhood) and what is today’s expectations of perfection.
I am not aiming for perfection and I would suggest you don’t either. Aim for consistency and decency.
I have on my bookshelf a related book that once I read I will share with you all. It is called No Drama Discipline by Dan Siegel.
There were six qualities I mentioned here as qualities that a good role model for children should have but please don’t limit yourself to any one definition or any one person’s view, make up your own.