I’ve learned through the years that being a role model is very important to my wife and children. I believe strongly that what you give is what you get, and if you take teaching responsibility and respect through your words and your actions, your family will also follow suit.
I’m proud of the fact that we’ve worked hard to develop their public skills to the point that they know how to behave in public, they know how to use their manners, they know how to be thankful for what they receive, and they also know how to look people in the eye to make them feel important when they are listening to others speak. It didn’t happen overnight though. When you adopt children and they’ve never been taught basic skills, you have to work daily and in the moment to work things out.
I can’t say that I am perfect and live a 100% error free life. When I say or do something that I feel doesn’t reflect my values or normal standards, I will apologize to the people in question. Our in house therapist reminded my wife and I that while we have to understand the power of words, the number of interactions we have with our children means there will be times that we slip up in looking for the correct phrase or sentence in helping.
I take fatherhood seriously. I take my role as a husband seriously. I want the people in my life to know how important they are, how much I respect their opinions and the impact they have on who I am. We can’t expect people to live in truth if we chose not to live in truth ourselves.
Even if we believe our parents are not the best role models, I’m sure you can seek out a teacher, another adult family member or a counselor/ therapist to give you guidance and support. Understand that your children will often believe their peers and classmates are the best role models if they can’t get their needs met through an adult. You need to ask yourself if that’s what you really want to see happen as their minds and bodies are developing, learning about appropriate peer relations and the skills necessary to transition into adulthood.
I’m proud of the fact that my wife stuck to her guns this weekend in a situation where ethics came into play. She could have easily made one family member very happy, but it would have been at the expense of a lesson towards our daughters. She would lose credibility because she wouldn’t have followed through on the truth. We’ve always expressed to our children a quote I remember years ago from Brian Tracy: “we want you to tell the truth, the punishment becomes worse only when you live in lies.”
I don’t believe you have to be big, brash or bold to become a role model. Be who you are. Lead by example. People will follow especially when they see the rewards you receive from leading a good life.