It doesn’t matter how much you talk – ultimately your child will learn far more from watching your behaviour. Teixeira Murray writes about six things every child should see their mom doing.
“Adulting” is already such a difficult task. Add to that becoming a parent, and one soon realises that there’s so much more to it than changing nappies and worrying about whether or not your little human will actually sleep through the night. Like it or not, these little humans grow up, and as they do, they learn how to fit into society by watching us.
Our offspring, learn from us in so many ways, but the things our children learn the most are the unspoken or unintentional acts they witness from us every day. They truly are sponges. I had to learn this truth the hard way. most new moms, I found myself tired, stressed and depressed, as well as overweight, after my firstborn five years ago. I remember my mom picking up my son when he was crying and I started crying too. I held out my hands to take him from her and she said, “No. First be better. Babies feel and see when we are sad, and then they are sad too.”
Her words stuck with me so much that I made a decision right there and then to “get better” for myself, so that I could be better example to my son. I decided that my example, how I live my life, will most certainly be the best gift I can give my children.
And so I set myself some fundamental behavioural goals that I deemed important for my children to see me living on a daily basis.
Love and respect
The dictionary defines respect as having “due regard for something or someone”. I love this. Learning to love myself and see myself as valuable, helps me to see others as valuable and thus I must treat all those around me with due regard.
There is no doubt in my mind that when I respect myself and others wholeheartedly, my children will automatically become respectful humans. It’s imperative that they see me treating every human, big or small, black or white, with respect and kindness. Equally, when someone disrespects me, they need to see me stand up for myself too, in a respectful manner, of course.
For me, self-love is the most important thing my children must see me displaying, because it’s possibly the thing I struggle with the most. But loving myself with all my flaws means I won’t allow people to use and abuse me. I want my children to see that I love myself enough to say ‘no’ when I need to and to say ‘yes’ to great opportunities should they come my way. I want my children to see me reach for my dreams, because I love the woman I am. I want them to love themselves, so of course I should love me.
I want them to see me exercising. Exercising is not about how I look, but rather about promoting an active lifestyle. Being fit means my body is able to function better and I get to enjoy the outdoors so much more.
I love that my son enjoys being active and loves going to gym with me on a regular basis. I also know the immense value in seeing my dedication to being active and when he perhaps chooses a sport, I know that he will be a good team player and show loyalty and dedication, because he sees me doing it now. Also his body will love him for it.
I also want my children to learn to love food: good, real food. They should say ‘yes’ to whole, fresh fruit and vegetables and learn to say ‘no, thank you’ to artificial sugary foods, more often than not.
I want them to enjoy a great slice of cake when they want to, but to have the discipline to know when they have had enough. I want them to learn to explore and learn about different cuisines and, in turn, learn more about other cultures and build friendships over great meals, without worrying too much about the calories.
I hope my children see me being charitable. Giving of my time and possessions to others is something I want my children to see. As parents we often say it’s good to share, but I want them to see me sharing the things I love with others, especially with those less fortunate. They need to see us getting involved in various charitable drives in the community and where possible, they should be involved.
It goes without saying that taking responsibility for my life and my actions is certainly one of the most precious gifts I can give my children. I would love to be bold enough and responsible enough to take ownership of my mistakes. I think more than anything, teaching and actively showing your children that it’s okay to make mistakes is a valuable life skill we often neglect. Be responsible with the example you are to your children and know they are watching you all the time. Let them see you take accountability for all your actions and decisions, whether good or bad.
Most importantly, I want my children to see me being happy and content enough to have fun, be silly and laugh a whole lot. Fun, fun and more fun! They should see me dancing in the rain and singing in the shower, being spontaneous and adventurous and enjoying life to the fullest.
Be their biggest fan
Remember to be your children’s biggest fans. Be their encouragement and learn to talk to them about their concerns, but always show that you are there to cheer them along. Sure, they may feel embarrassed at times, but be there in the front row anyway. Be present and be excited, as they will remember it.
Parenting is not easy, but we also forget how simple it really can be. It really starts with us, the moms and the dads: what we put out there for children to see, they will mimic. It’s not necessarily an easy task, but when we become conscious of the little lives we influence, then we need to take action.
Perhaps if we learn to be good examples, our children will turn out to be good humans. There are far too many negative role models out there for our children to follow, from weird rap-stars to crazy religious cult leaders. We cannot shelter them from everything, but we can make sure their primary examples are consistent, and help to draw out their strengths as individuals.