Practice what you preach

I’m not one to follow celebrity stories (although I admit that there are times when I’m looking to “relax” my brain from the daily rush, and reading a bit of fluff helps me unwind. (Kind of like in the old days when I would pick up a Harlequin Romance novel in between reading more intensive literature.)

Today, over on People–Celebrity Babies, I read Kimberly Van Der Beek’s Spiritual Family Tips. (She’s married to James Van Der Beek of Dawson’s Creek fame.)

Her post hit a chord with me because I’ve been trying (almost desperately) to show my kids how I want them to behave by behaving that way myself. But all too often I find myself telling them how I expect them to behave and then acting the opposite way myself. Which, we all know, doesn’t work.

Practice what you preach.

If I act in a disrespectful way toward my children, how can I expect them to respect me or each other (or anyone else for that matter)?

If I react to something that has happened, and my reaction is not a good one, how can I expect my children to react in a positive way when something goes wrong for them?

As Kimberly Van Der Beek says in her post,

“The next time somebody ticks you off and you feel that rush of adrenaline, try forcing yourself to take a pause. Ask yourself, “Two weeks from now, am I really going to care this much about what just happened?” This will usually allow you to deal with your situation from a more grounded perspective.”

This tidbit of advice surfaces quite often. And it’s so true. If I can just hold onto my reaction for five seconds, breathe in, breathe out, then ask myself, “Two weeks from now, will this matter?” I stand a better chance of reacting in a more positive way. Not only will I have calmed myself down from the little breathing exercise, but I will have put the situation into perspective with the question and the subsequent answer, which in most cases is going to be “no”.

And if my children see me do this, they will learn from my actions. That’s what I want.

Another point Kimberly makes is, “Judge not … because you don’t really know.”

How true.

She goes on to say,

“We can tell a child exactly what they need to hear, and we can be right, but if we’re doing it from a reactive, angry, judgmental place, that’s all they’ll get from us.”

How many times has this happened to me? I dare not say. I’m not even sure I could come up with an accurate number. And it would be too big a number anyway. In my hectic world, anger and judgment shine through. It makes me sad just writing that.

How do we make the shift from this angry, reactive place to a more serene, understanding place? Here’s Kimberly’s advice:

“Give them the benefit of the doubt. We can never know someone’s whole truth. Their situation, intentions, feelings, insecurities and doubts are often concealed.

So the next time you confront somebody — child or adult — kick in some compassion and give them the benefit of the doubt and you can handle the situation with love instead of anger. More often than not, your words will be well-received.”

I know this is the way forward. But how do I remember to take this path?

Here’s my plan:

  • Build a little more time into our daily routine (i.e., go to bed earlier, get up earlier, be prepared.)
  • Always count to (at least) five before opening my mouth (you can read about that here.)
  • Be in the same room and look my children in the eye when speaking to them. No more yelling up the stairs. The message gets lost. The yelling gets remembered.
  • Pray, meditate, center myself from within. Much of what I would like to do, I cannot because I lack inner peace. I believe that finding it within me will help me radiate it outward and bring peace to my children.

4 thoughts on “Practice what you preach

  1. Veronica

    I think that you just asking yourself these questions and trying to implement a new plan of action is more than many parents do. I admire your honesty and your dedication to raising happy, grounded kids.

    I feel that parents should take on this pro-active role because in the end, a child’s behaviour and attitude affect their parents’ and their own lives. Kids who have good habits growing up are much more likely to carry these into adulthood, and as a result I believe will have more success and happiness in their lives.


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