Sunday, 10 January 2016

Parents As Role Models: How To Be The Best*

The act of having a child is pretty scary. Well, the first bit isn’t, but it becomes a lot less fun afterwards! It isn’t simply the fact that mums and dads have to be responsible. As far as the majority of parents go, there seems to be a gene which makes them cut out for the role. Unless they are terrible human beings, hardly anyone mistreats their flesh and blood. No, it’s the second part which is terrifying: setting a good example.

No matter your intentions, it’s possible to get this part dead wrong. And, there is no one else to blame because their behaviour has come straight from the source. If that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, nothing will! The only things mothers and fathers can do is take charge and try and be the best possible role model.

Of course, in a complicated society like the one we live in today, the job is getting harder and harder. Imagine if there was a cheat sheet, something to refer to in a time of need. How amazing that would be! Psst – take a glance underneath.

Attach Your Mask First

Jordan Peterson recently made headlines by debating Channel 4’s Cathy Newman. One of the things to come out of the interview was his rule for life: take care of your room. The metaphor simply means that you should get your house in order before trying to fix the rest of the neighbourhood. As basic as it sounds, it has relevance in the role model stakes. Attaching your oxygen mask before helping others has a variety of effects. Obviously, you’ll lead a healthier and happier life as a result. But, as importantly, you’ll naturally transform into an example for the kids to follow. By watching you eating well, exercising and socialising with friends, they will copy these vital cornerstones of life. Always help yourself before helping others.

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Ask For Help

Mums particularly can feel as if they are the ones who have to shoulder the immense burden. Obviously, parents are the ones that must deal with problems and set positive and constructive examples. Still, there are others who can pitch in and take the weight off when life gets hard. Simply reaching out to a husband or partner is an excellent start. People will say they should be involved anyway, but parents tend to split roles depending on gender. Mums, for example, are better at offering advice to young girls because they have been through the process. Sometimes, even if it doesn’t work, the dad can try and improve the situation. A different perspective often works wonders. And, if not, at least the kids will be mad at someone else!

But Don’t Rely On Others

No self-respecting parent lets strangers guide their kids, right? You would imagine this to be the case yet millions of mums and dads are guilty of this very act. Think about the times when a celebrity has done something wrong and is vilified in the media. The excuse for the hate is that they are a role model. Believing this to be true is an admission that someone else is having a greater impact on your child’s life. Considering they can’t ask for advice or guidance, this should be worrying. Also, think about the best way to address the situation. Simply saying they are trash isn’t healthy because it inhibits rational thinking. During difficult, topical discussions, play devil’s advocate to boost critical thinking skills.

Spot The Signs

Everything seems to be going smoothly until a train hits and smashes the family into pieces. Parents say “I never saw it coming,” but the truth is that the signs were there all along. The reality is that you weren’t looking hard enough or ignored them. Teenagers sneak alcohol to their rooms and go to parties, but that’s no reason to research rehab information and stage an intervention, right? Honestly, it depends on the context and the seriousness of the situation. Regardless, the attitude to take is not to lament the fact that teenagers will be teenagers. Whether it feels like a big deal or not, you have to react to teach them about the dangers of alcohol abuse. The same goes for cigarettes, drugs and sex. Being firm but fair teaches them valuable life lessons.

Show Them You’re Not Perfect

Some kids love to brag about how their parents never fight. Although it makes for peaceful home life, it doesn’t do their upbringing any favours. In fact, experts believe it leads to a condition which is called conflict-free relationships. As the name suggests, it’s the process of avoiding problems head-on and sweeping them under the carpet. Regarding a relationship, this can be potentially unhealthy as one person may rule the other. As regards to school and work later down the line, it’s a sure-fire way to stunt progression. Anyone who isn’t going to put themselves out there won’t get noticed and will stagnate. Parents should show their kids that they address issues proactively and maturely. For example, if there is an argument, don’t wait until the kids are in bed. Speak about it passionately without shouting and screaming and show them the value of disagreements.

Put Aside The Guilt

Teaching kids valuable lessons is hard because they have leverage. Ignoring a parent and holding a grudge will hit you and your partner where it hurts. There’s nothing like being jilted by your son/daughter and it makes you feel guilty. Giving into this emotion solves the stand-off yet teaches them nothing. In fact, it shows that being irrational is advantageous, whereas people in the real world won’t stand for it. Mums and dads have to put the guilt to one side and realise good role models piss off their children. Sadly, it’s an occupational hazard of leading by example. Of course, if the cold shoulder persists you should find a solution such as talking and explaining the decision.

Do you think you can be a better role model for your children? If you answer yes, how so?
*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

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