Experts are consistent that being a great role model is one of the most important factors in raising strong, responsible kids. It is pretty clear that if you want to raise caring kids, you need to show them daily what that looks like. If you want your kids to be responsible, clean, whatever it might be…show them, not tell them. This is not a new or revolutionary concept.
However, there are other areas that are not as clear. I have found with my kids that role modeling these three things spill over into all the areas of their lives and helps them get better grades, have a better attitude, make friends more easily and use good judgment.
It isn’t enough to simply provide for and care for our kids, or to watch them as they participate in sports or other activities. Kids need to see their parents living with passion. Whether it is about our work, a hobby or sport, a cause, a creative endeavor….show your children how much YOU care about life. Let them live under an umbrella of dreams and excitement and pride that comes when you caring deeply about something. It will keep a spark alive in their heart that will carry them through their days and motivate them to succeed.
As we go through the struggles and challenges of life, show your kids the high road. I am not referring strictly to the traditional forms that compassion can take like supporting a cause. I am referring to your daily interactions…with family, neighbors, your community, school officials and coworkers. Show your kids that no matter who may be causing you difficulties, there is always a place for empathy and concern for others and that there may be real reasons why they do what they do that we can’t see. Its only natural to be irritated or even angry at times in life, but there is always an opportunity to demonstrate compassion regardless of the situation.
This virtue is one that can only really be taught to your child by being a strong role model for the truth every day. Kids will watch us and observe and they are quick to notice when we are being hypocritical, secretive, or in any other way lacking in honesty. Kids are motivated to behave based largely on their connection to us as parents and their desire to not disappoint us. Often parents think that if they don’t tell their child something, assuming it is age-appropriate, the child won’t know what is happening. But often they do, and the opportunity for communication and a more honest relationship is missed. It is often more valuable, to be honest with our kids and forthcoming, albeit judicious in what we tell them or share with them.
When our kids see us as parents living authentic, passionate, caring lives and understand daily why these are valuable traits….when they can learn in little ways as they grow what these traits look like and how they can improve the world and ourselves, they are much more likely to live their lives in the same way. Doing so provides protection and a tool that will serve them well no matter what obstacles life presents in their journey.