Your kids are watching your every move, and they’re even more perceptive than you probably realize. For better or worse, they observe, learn and then imitate your behaviors, values, words, and even your expressions. You are in a position of tremendous power because what you model will impact your children for life, but are you directing them where you want them to go? Are you the role model you want to be?
Ask yourself these 14 questions — be completely honest even if it’s scary to admit certain things about yourself.
1. Do you model a life of passion and purpose, a life in which you feel vibrant and alive? Or, does your life include things (eg, 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 resolve conflicts with other people effectively? 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 the problems with addictive behaviors, such as overeating, or using alcohol or drugs?
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? Or, do you pursue worth and value through material things, such as designer clothes and fancy cars?
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 and keep you from doing many things?
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 back off because you've "got too much on your plate"?
After you evaluate your responses, it may be time to start requiring more of yourself as a parent. If you’re not modeling positive behavior, it’s never too late to make a change. Where do you need to improve your behavior so you can set the right example for your children? You’re not the only role model in their lives, but you’re the only one whom you can control, so start being the adult you’d hope your children become.