If you thought fans and paparazzi were just for celebrities, I am going to tell you its not true! You have them right in your home following and admiring and imitating you 24/7. You know exactly who I am talking about, Kids!
If you are surrounded by kids as a parent, relative or caregiver, you are primed to be a role model. Kids are like sponges and absorb everything around them. If you spend a substantial amount of time with them, chances are they know you inside – out, even better than yourself and guess what? You have a definite influence on their thoughts, beliefs, mannerisms and behaviors.
Voila! you have a fan club !!! Their primary strength – Power of observation, inference and USE! It’s not unusual for your pint sized (don’t be fooled by the headcount!) Fan squad to manipulate you to their advantage and yes they usually start pretty young 🙂
So that leads me to ask you an important question, what kind of a role model are you?
- Do you demonstrate strength that’s different from being rigid?
- Have you told them that crying does not make them weak, rather it’s a good way to clean a stubborn thought? What you do after crying is more important.
- That anger teaches the angry person to practice self discipline and to love themselves so they won’t get mad at someone else?
- Anybody who is good at anything – practiced and practiced and practiced till they could do it easily in their sleep?
- Failure is a part of success not the opposite of it, giving up is the opposite of success.
If you can’t tell, I can go on and on… but I wont because you are better at it in practice than I can write about it on paper, it’s a life skill that automatically grows upon all parents without much effort! We want to give our kids the best and leave no stone unturned in our efforts. Our kids become our larger than life’s purpose.
we role play all the time, even without trying…
Being a role model for character building is not an easy task. We often take the blame for our kids’ mistakes, because we do treat them as an extension of ourselves and in those weird introspective moments realize that we learn a ton from them, just like they do from us. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that parenting is a humbling experience, it teaches us the ‘Art of merging’ with the (our) universe (starting with our families). Yes, while we can’t often treat the larger universe the same way we treat our loved ones, it makes us ponder what is it that creates those boundaries ? Have we stretched them farther than we need to them to be?
The Universe being so collective and expansive in nature, allows us to connect back into the Whole through our life’s experiences that we share with fellow parents either at work, school, a store, you name it, and we see role models everywhere!
Watch out, the whole world is your fan club! Without making a conscious effort, we are always giving and receiving. What we exchange can be enhanced multi-fold with mindful thoughts and actions 🙂
How to be a good ‘Role model’?
Now before you jump to analyzing all your faults and imagining it to be a tall order to be PERFECT for the world all the time, I want to say that the key here is simple – very simple. Let me tell you a story,
There is an old story of a woman in India who was upset with her son for eating too many sweets. No matter how much she convinced him, he continued to indulge in his sweet cravings. Upset and frustrated, she decided to take her son to see his great Hero Mahatma Gandhi.
She approached the great leader respectfully and expressed her concerns,
“Sir, my son eats too many sweets. It can cause his health much harm, but he won’t listen to me. Would you please ask him to stop eating them? Perhaps he will respect your words and give up the nasty habit, for he thinks and speaks very highly of you. You are his Hero. ”
Gandhi listened to the woman patiently and with keen intent, he then turned and spoke to her son in a soft voice, Go home now my boy and come back in two weeks.”
The woman was perplexed, wore a big question on her face and wondered – Why had he not asked the boy to stop eating the sweets? She firmly clasped her boy’s hand and took him home.
Two weeks later she returned with the same hope, her son following closely behind her.
Gandhi motioned for them to come forward. Now he looked directly at the boy and said, “Boy, you should stop eating too many sweets. It is not good for your health.” The boy nodded nervously and promised he would stop.
The boy’s mother utterly puzzled by Gandhi’s delay in rendering this simple advice, turned to him and asked the obvious, “May I ask, why you didn’t you tell him this, two weeks ago when I brought him here to see you?”
Gandhi smiled, ‘Mother’, he said, “Two weeks ago I was still committing the same crime – eating too many sweets myself! I stopped ever since and so feel appropriate to share the words with your son.”
Live in another’s shoes, practice empathy for self and others, this is all it takes.