“Do as I say, not as I do.” I am sure you have heard that phrase before. This is one of the most hypocritical statements you can make to your children. You cannot tell your children not to smoke when they get older if they see you smoking five packs of cigarettes a day. You cannot tell your child to do their schoolwork and stop procrastinating if you state that you should be writing that paper for school while you are continuously scrolling on social media. You also cannot preach respect and kindness to your children if you and your spouse are constantly name-calling and disrespecting each other. We must practice what we preach. This brings up imitation. Imitation means the action of using someone or something as a model.
While there may be many good examples for your children, the person they are most likely to imitate is their mother and father. What a coincidence? This is extremely important as it begins to shape their minds. Our children are greatly influenced by the things we do, how we talk, what we watch, and what we listen to. We are their model for adult behavior. Negative and positive traits are sometimes passed from father to son and from mother to daughter. For this very reason, there are so many generational effects of abusers, addicts, and negative behavior.
So how do we combat this and minimize the negative traits and accentuate the positive? Simple, we practice what we preach. I have found it challenging yet rewarding to do a self-check when I find myself being hypocritical. I tell Khaleb to be careful what he lays his eyes on and what he listens to because it feeds his brain and can become his actions. I was listening to Pandora in my room one day, and a rap song started playing with lots of profanity. Khaleb walked in and asked, “Why are you listening to that?” Not so much because it was rap, because we both enjoy Hip Hop, but specifically because it had profanity. We have a rule of listening to music with no profanity. It was at that moment that I had no excuse.
Holding ourselves accountable and giving our children healthy and positive examples will help set them up for success in the future. When it comes to imitation, at the end of the day, practice what you preach.