There are many ways in which parents intentionally or unintentionally model positive character qualities: self-control, caring, diligence, faithfulness, etc.
But we can also model negative character qualities, especially when we’re not thoughtful!
When our eldest son Daniel and I got into power struggles, I was keenly aware of how disrespectful he was! But I was usually oblivious to my own angry, shaming words and tone.
With a scowl, pointed finger, and strong tone I would grandly announce,
“It is NOT OK to talk like that!”
My condescending proclamations were an attempt to feel in charge, but did nothing to calm the conflict.
I finally realized that in his own defiance, Daniel was basically following my example of strong pronouncements and angry tone.
He was being childish and disrespectful… but so was I.
The ball was in my court to be the first to change, to learn to be calmer and more respectful.
I decided to make a change. When conflicts would start to escalate, I consciously practiced: first take a deep breath and then say something like, “Daniel, I am really angry, and I’m afraid I’m going to be disrespectful to you if we talk about this now. I’m going to take a break, and let’s talk about it later.”
As I learned, Daniel learned from my example. Before long our conflicts became more civil and respectful. Looking back, that was a key step in his journey of learning to calm himself down in conflict.
Parents often overlook the importance of their example as a model for their children. But as we begin to be more thoughtful about our own parenting journey, we can let our children into our learning as we teach them by our own example how to deal with life when it gets hard.
Apply It Now:
- If I step outside my home life and watch my daily existence as though it’s a TV show, what are some positive qualities that I model for my children?
- What are there some things I do that are inconsistent with what I would like them to learn?
- How could I make a plan to be more thoughtful about the example I set for my children? How could I let them into my own learning to help them learn?
This post is an excerpt from our book, How to Grow a Connected Family.
Frustrated by constant discipline challenges? Take 15 minutes to read our free ebook 4 Messages All Children Long to Hear: A Discipline That Connects Overview.