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          Parenting

          What Kind of Role Model Are You?

          November 30, 1999

          Children are very perceptive and they watch every move you make. For better or worse, they observe, learn and imitate your behaviors, your actions, your values, your beliefs and even your expressions. It’s a fact that children learn vicariously by observing the behavior of others and noting the consequences of their actions. You are in a position of tremendous power in regard to influencing the development of your child. Modeling is important because it is the primary way that children learn the values they will carry for life. Through your actions, your words, your behavior and your love, you can direct your children toward where you want them to go. What are you modeling to your children through your own behavior? 

          The following list of questions from Chapter 13 of Family First may help you consider your standard of conduct as a role model. Be really honest here, even if it is scary to admit certain things about yourself.

          1. Do you model a life of passion and purpose, where you feel vibrant and alive, or does your life include things, such as your job, that you constantly complain about and profess to hate?
          2. Do you model taking good care of yourself physically, or do you eat junk food, continue to be overweight, smoke cigarettes or not exercise?
          3. Do you effectively resolve conflicts with other people, or do you withdraw, stomp your feet, slam doors, get mad or do everything you can to avoid confrontations?
          4. Does your family see you handling life's disappointments with a rational, positive strategy, or do you medicate with addictive behaviors?
          5. Do you model financial responsibility with regard to your bills and dealings, or do you overindulge and live beyond your means?
          6. Do you model high morals by avoiding such behaviors as gossiping, lying, cheating and cursing?
          7. Do you model social responsibility by volunteering at your church, school or local shelters and hospitals?
          8. Do you model properly defined self-worth and self-esteem based on character traits?
          9. Does your family see you reaching for something more, or have you gotten too comfortable in the nonthreatening sameness of your life?
          10. Do you model competency in situations, or does fear slip into your interactions?
          11. Do you approach problems and setbacks as opportunities, or label every problem a crisis?
          12. Do you model relationships with other people that are loving, affirming and supportive, or do you criticize other people, tear them down or talk behind their backs?
          13. Do you go through the day with energy, feeling totally alive, or are you constantly tired, stressed, emotionally flat or even depressed, worried and unhappy?
          14. Do you spend genuine time with your family, including being involved in and supporting their activities, or do you beg off because you've "got too much on your plate"?

          If you haven't been doing a very good job, it is not too late to get on the ball. Being a worthy role model may mean you've got to ramp up. You've simply got to require more of yourself in every category, even the mundane things like grooming, health, self-control, emotional management, relationships, social interaction, work performance, dealing with fears and every other category of daily life. If you begin to do things with more energy and thoughtfulness and love, your new level of performance will inspire your entire family to live with more passion and exuberance.



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