As a parent, you are a role model. But what kinds of lessons are you modeling? We all have our blind spots, and even cool parents can sometimes be oblivious to certain lessons that they’re teaching their kids, through their words and daily actions.
Here are 7 dangerous lessons that you've got to STOP teaching, today.
1. It's OK to disrespect your body.
Do you abuse your body by overeating or going on crash diets? Drink too much alcohol? Say cruel things about your appearance, when you look in the mirror?
Your child is learning how to value his or her body by watching your example. What kind of example do you want to set?
2. Relationships with electronic devices matter more than human relationships.
Do you sleep with your smartphone practically tucked under your pillow? Flip through emails on your iPad when your partner is telling a story at the dinner table?
If so, then you’re teaching your kids that intimate involvement with an electronic screen is more important than people sharing quality time with each other.
3. Dessert is a reward for being "good."
Ever say something like this to your child? “If you’re a good girl at Grandma's, you can have a cookie when we get home.”
Many well-intentioned parents bribe kids with food. It’s tempting to offer a treat as a reward for good behavior. It’s an easy, quick way to get kids to cooperate … at least, for a little while.
But it’s a dangerous lesson to teach — one that can result in unhealthy eating patterns that are tough to change later, as an adult.
4. It's OK to cheat ... as long as you don't get caught.
Here's an example:
“Oops, the waiter forgot to charge us for your meal. Guess we’re getting a free dinner, tonight! Come on, let’s go. Hurry!”
If you teach your kid that cheating is OK (as long as you don’t get caught) you’re doing your kid a tremendous disservice. Your kid is far more likely to cheat on a test, violate the law, or be unfaithful to a partner later in life. Because you’ve taught them that there aren’t any consequences … as long as you cover your tracks.
5. It’s OK to flake out.
Do you tell people that you’ll call them and then you don’t?
Do you say that you’ll finish something by a certain time, and then flake out?
When you consistently break your word, you’re teaching your child that personal integrity doesn’t mean much, and reliability isn’t important.
6. Sex can be used as a bargaining chip.
Do you withhold sex from your partner as a “punishment?” Or lay on tons of affection once he (or she) has done what you want?
Your kid might be too young to understand exactly what’s going on, but he or she will pick up on the underlying message: Sex can be used to control people and get what I want.
7. Other people’s needs and desires are more important than your own.
Do you hold back on sharing who you really are? Do you keep quiet, instead of asking for what you truly want?
It’s natural to want to be liked and accepted. But when you don’t follow your heart, you’re sending the message to your kid that what you truly desire doesn’t matter.
When it comes to your child’s future happiness and satisfaction, that’s one of the most dangerous lessons of all.…
If you’re reading this and feeling guilty because you’ve done things that you shouldn’t have, don’t be hard on yourself! (Punishing yourself for making a mistake — that’s yet another lesson that you don’t want to teach your kids!)
Instead, make a commitment to become more aware of how you behave, and celebrate the important changes that you’re going to make. Your kid learns from you, every day. From your words and actions. From your presence and absence. From the way you treat yourself and others.
You can choose to change the lesson plan … starting now.