How are you behaving in front of your children?
By ZAID MOHAMAD
Of the many Father’s Day wishes I saw on social media last year, there was one that really caught my attention. It was a simple poster with a very powerful message. It said:
“Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice.”
– Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958)
Based on a quick search, I learnt that Kettering was an inventor, engineer, businessman, and the holder of 186 patents.
He was also a founder of Delco, and head of research at General Motors from 1920-1947.
Those wise words still ring true today. Bapa borek, anak rintik is an old Malay proverb which correlates to ‘like father, like son’.
Both show the same thing – our children are keenly watching what we do, and not so much of what we say.
This should not alarm us because it’s always easier for parents to dish out the do-as-I-say instructions, while many are not readily walking the talk.
Call it leadership by example or role modelling because if parents fail to do it, it will bring about a rollover impact to their kids.
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Check ourselves first
Before blaming anyone else, let’s take a look at our own behaviours when dealing with our kids.
Do we easily lose our temper when they are not behaving the way we want?
Will you remain patient when they didn’t bring home the expected academic results?
What about the times when we subconsciously badmouth others in front of our children?
All these negative examples can only mean one thing – no matter how hard we advise our kids to behave or to think highly of others, they are absolutely meaningless when we ourselves fail to demonstrate those behaviours.
It also means that we have to constantly be aware of our own behaviours because you are being role modelled by your children.
Self-control and common courtesy
And those moments are plenty. For example, when we reprimand them, avoid the urge to swear or curse. More importantly, avoid physical violence altogether.
They may not react much at that time, but deep down, they are learning a lesson that it’s okay to lose control of our emotions when we are angry or upset.
Similarly, when on the road, let’s ensure that we check our attitude and behaviours.
Obey traffic rules and basic courtesy, otherwise we are effectively ferrying a future generation of impatient and rude drivers.
That poster I came across was truly a great self-reminder for me to behave better and be in control of my actions and emotions.
No doubt, as humans, we will lose it once in a while. But we must do our best not to let it happen in front of our children.
Otherwise, we risk wasting our parenting efforts and leave them with a lesson that it’s okay for them to misbehave because we (the parents) did it too.
Zaid Mohamad is a certified parental coach and author of two best-selling books, Smart Parents, Brighter Kids and Smart Parents, Richer Kids. To get in touch with Zaid, email firstname.lastname@example.org