One of our biggest parenting surprises was the discovery of just how much our daughters will emulate us. And, along with our good traits, this also included some of our bad habits. At first, we believed we could get them to buy into the whole “do as I say, not as I do” concept. However, as it turns out, that just wasn’t the case.
As a result, when we discovered this, my wife and I made a conscious effort to be better role models for our daughters. This included making three big changes in our daily routines so we could set a better example for them.
The first thing we did was start turning off our cell phones. This wasn’t easy at first, especially since my wife uses Facebook and texting as a way of keeping in touch with her family on the East Coast. However, even though they don’t have them yet, we know our daughters will eventually have cell phones of their own and we hope our effort to put our phones away so we can give our undivided attention to them will make it easier to convince them to reciprocate in the future.
The second thing we did was start trying new foods. Our daughters are notoriously picky when it comes to eating and, while my wife and I won’t force them to eat foods we know they don’t like, we do encourage them to try new things in an effort to find more foods they will enjoy. We found this became much easier when we started trying new foods too, starting with fried mussels a few months ago and including re-trying things like liver (which I hate); just to see if we enjoy it now that we’re older.
The last thing we started doing was taking time to sit down and read books. My daughters both love to read and, so far at least, getting them to sit down with a book hasn’t been that big of a deal. However, my wife and I realized we could help encourage them by taking the time to read some books ourselves rather than just sitting down in front of the TV at night. And, as it turns out, it is a fantastic way to spend some quiet family time.
My wife and I still have some bad habits that we’re sure our kids will eventually pick up. But, by taking these steps, we are at least setting a much better example than we were before.