She Speaks: Mom receives benefits from her own parenting
I know I shouldn’t have more chocolate. I’ve lectured my kids a hundred times on the pitfalls of sugar addiction. And yet, here I am, as soon as they are out of sight, reaching for the candy drawer. I am a hypocrite.
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I know I shouldn’t have more chocolate.
I’ve lectured my kids a hundred times on the pitfalls of sugar addiction. And yet, here I am, as soon as they are out of sight, reaching for the candy drawer.
I am a hypocrite.
It’s not like I don’t agree with the rules I’ve set. And I know that watchful eyes learn more from my behavior than my words.
The problem is I want my kids to be better than I am.
I want to pass on my savvy without passing on my fears.
I want them to have open hearts and open eyes to the needs of those around them and the conviction and diligence to jump in there and be part of the solution.
I want them to read and exercise, to eat healthfully and expand their palates, to see the world and be polite to everyone they meet along the way, to be lifelong learners with the ability to adapt. I want them to be well-balanced children ready to face world of possibility.
But it’s sometimes difficult to lead by example because I want them to be better than I am at all of it.
Even now, just a couple of hours after dropping the kids at school, I sit stress-eating mint M&Ms at my desk. What happened to my lecture about the benefits of leafy greens and mindful eating?
I may not have enough self-control to resist altogether but at least I can muster enough willpower to keep myself on the straight and narrow when they are around.
I know their eyes are always watching me, ready to call me out if I don’t practice what I preach. And I want to be this person they think I am — super mom who never lets them down. (OK, I’m sure that’s not their vision of me, but the impossible standard I’ve set for myself.)
I ask them to be open to new experiences, and then I have to find ways to model this behavior — going as far as to pet a snake at the zoo while on vacation.
I have written about how one summer my son looked for a good deed or a volunteer opportunity to participate in every day. What I didn’t write about was how I was right out there with him, digging in the dirt at Kahuku Farms, picking up trash on the beach, helping grandma around the house. I tried to open his eyes to the needs around him, but I succeeded in widening my own gaze as well as I sought out opportunities for him.
No phones at the table … write your thank-you notes … let’s go for a short walk to get more exercise … never stop learning … get out of your comfort zone. I am right there with them.
And so by parenting my boys, I have accidentally parented myself into being a better me.
By the time my boys are grown, hopefully I will have grown into the person they already think I am — before I’m caught with my hand in a bag of M&Ms.