“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it” – Anonymous. This anonymous (and thoughtful) quote perhaps best describes what it truly means to be a role model in life – especially to children.
Some believe in order to attain the title of role model, one must possess headline-making accomplishments, wealth, status and a perceived level of success.
But being a true role model is all about character and behavior during the everyday circumstances of life – the times when you think no one else is looking, but someone most definitely is.
Oftentimes, it’s a child, who learns from the very first teachers they ever encounter – their parents. Author Robert Fulghum once said, “Don’t worry that children never list to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
My father and my grandfather were two role models in my life who I always found myself watching very closely.
Even as a young boy frequently in their company, I studied their actions and reactions; their compassion and tolerance; their humility and charity, as they went about their everyday lives.
Perhaps without them ever realizing it, the way in which they conducted themselves, both inside their homes and outside in society, was being absorbed by the young, impressionable mind of a child with a propensity to imitate what he saw – as most children do.
Think of the kind of power a role model imparts on the children who admire them. A power which is sadly misused as racism, sexism, homophobia and other hateful biases towards our fellow man are unknowingly passed down to those looking up to us.
In author Frank Sonnenberg’s book, Soul Food: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, he writes quite simply, “You’re a role model. Act like one.”
Parents are naïve if they don’t understand that their children are watching them, studying them during every moment they’re in their company. Over time, they will begin to imitate the character and behavior you maintain during the everyday circumstances of life.
You are your child’s role model – it’s time you make sure you’re acting like one.