Lately it seems as though every time I log into Facebook, Twitter, MSN, etc…I am bombarded with these “10 Things I Want My Daughter, My Son, My Teenager, My Dog… to Know” posts. Sure, they’re nice and great and lovely and all, and I want the same for my kids, but with each new post, I become increasingly annoyed. Don’t get me wrong, I do want my daughter to know that she is loved no matter what and that life isn’t always fair. I want her to grow into a beautiful, caring, self-respecting woman just like every parent wants for their child. And I want my teenage son to respect girls and to know that you get out of life what you give to it. As for my dog – I actually don’t have a dog and haven’t seen a post for dogs, but I have a funny feeling one will be hitting the social media scene any day now.
But I have to be honest here. While these posts, whether they’re 10 things, 25 things, or a million things, have all the right intentions and address some pretty important life-lessons, they miss the mark big time on what WE as parents and adults are actually DOING to SHOW our kids that these life-lessons are real and take work, not just words.
Sure, it’s easy to tell someone that they are beautiful and loved no matter what. We can say it over and over and over again. We can print it out, frame it and hang it on our walls, but are we living that way ourselves? Do we TELL our children one thing yet SHOW them the opposite? Do we criticize our bodies and point out flaws in ourselves and others? Are we truly SHOWING them how to be honest, faithful and trustworthy? And when we tell our children that we want them to be strong and healthy, are we SHOWING them the same or are we teaching them by the, “Do as I say, not as I do” method?
I used to think these posts were great but then realized that they never address the fundamental principle of showing by example. We tell our children to be honest, faithful, generous, loving and forgiving. We tell them to love themselves, respect others, and give to those in need, but do we SHOW them how? If we’re not living what we’re preaching, then our words are just words – and our children will see right through those words and learn to deal with life’s challenges the way they SEE us handling them.
We live in a land of excuses and avoid doing the very things we want our children to do. We blame our parents, our upbringing, our challenges, and tell our kids that we are the way we are because of our past. We want them so desperately to NOT be insecure and critical, and out of shape, and stressed out all the time that we resort to lists telling them we want them to live differently. But by NOT SHOWING them how we want them to live, we are simply begging them to be different and expecting them to do so with no role models, no tools and no clue.
So I challenge you to make that generic “10 Things I Want My (Son/Daughter, etc) to Know” list and change it to your very own “10 Things I Am Doing to SHOW My (Son/Daughter) to Know” list. Sit down, take some time, and write out exactly how you’re going to SHOW your child how it’s done.
SHOW how to give to the community.
SHOW how important it is to be healthy.
SHOW how to love yourself and your body.
SHOW how to respect others.
SHOW how to handle a challenge with a level-head.
SHOW how mistakes can become opportunities.
SHOW how to stand up for what you believe in.
SHOW how education is essential in your daily life.
SHOW how you strive to become better every day.
SHOW how you value yourself, your purpose and your dreams.
More showing and less telling makes for a list worth framing and who knows? You, yourself may actually turn into the person you want your child to be someday!
Pretty powerful, huh?