Do we want to see our kids grow up to be positive role models? Have fulfilling work lives and rewarding hobbies?
Do we want them to respect authority, stand up for themselves, and be kind to everyone? Be spiritual, thankful, and giving? Do we want our kids to get off their electronic devices sometimes and make some eye contact with other human beings?
Crap. We’ve got a lot of work to do.
Everyone has different dreams for their kids, so I’m not suggesting this list is your list. But whatever your list is, whatever your vision of a perfect grownup looks like, your kids are going to learn how to get there from you. So…
Can you cheat sometimes?
(Okay, fine, you can. But make sure they’re not looking…)
Can you fail sometimes?
Being a good person is difficult. So, let your kids see you struggle. If making a change is hard for you, you can guess it’ll be hard for them some day, too. Give them tools to handle the challenges: How do you deal with failure? How do you maintain self-control when it’s hard? How do you pick yourself back up when you fall?
All this brings us to the good news: We are walking, talking models of the people our kids will become.
And here’s some even better news: in the process of modeling them into better grownups, we will become better people ourselves.
Kids grow up and move on. But we’ve got to live with ourselves for the rest of our lives. So doesn’t it seem like a good investment to make yourself into the kind of person you admire?
Nothing in life is perfect, and there is no better lesson in the impossibility of perfection than parenting. All of parenting — maybe all of life? — is about lunging repeatedly toward where you want to be. Sometimes it’s graceful. Sometimes it’s not. But it doesn’t matter, as long as we’re headed (mostly) in the right direction.
Dr. Kerry McGee is a former Kids Plus provider.