Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you
— Robert Fulghum
We all want to be the best parents in the world to our kids.
We all want our kids to look up to us.
We want to be their heroes.
We can have all of this even though we’re not perfect.
And maybe even because we’re so flawed.
My kids have seen and heard me yell and get frustrated and be lazy and all sorts of things that make me feel like the worst parent in the world. It’s not okay to blatantly let ourselves slip into patterns of bad parenting and being a bad example to our children.
This is no excuse for bad behavior.
What matters is that when we do make mistakes we do it with a learning and teaching mentality.
Showing our children our weaknesses can help them improve, if we ourselves have the intent of improving. We try to be the very best we can be, but when we do fail, as we inevitably will, we must show them how to do it.
How much more powerful is an example of learning from mistakes to a child than just being perfect all the time?
We sometimes get so worried about being perfect that when we do make mistakes, we fail to see the learning opportunities right in front of us.
I envision my children growing up to tell me that they remember that I had the habit of always saying sorry whenever I got mad. This is one of my most important goals, along with learning how to control my temper in the first place so that I get angry less throughout the years.
They will not only see and learn how to be consistent at apologizing quickly when mistakes are made, but more importantly they will learn that they are changeable. I want to show them by example how to improve and learn and grow, and especially how to not be so hard on themselves when they make mistakes.
The truth is, you’re always being an example to your kids, the only question is whether it’s a good example or a bad one.
BUT, it is imperative that we remember that even when we’re being less than awesome parents we can still set awesome examples for our children. We can teach them, through our own failures, that failure is an important part of life. Failure isn’t so bad. It actually helps us grow. And sometimes, as is the case with depression, for example, it’s not even a failure but rather just part of life.
Let’s teach our children how to be imperfect.
To fail and get back up again and say sorry over and over again.
It may be the greatest gift that we can give them.