Everyone at some point had their parent say to them, “Do as I say, not as I do.” As a kid, this drove me crazy.
However, now I can see why parents are quick to rattle off this command. It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s an easy out to justify your own bad habits. And it makes us feel better about choosing to do one thing and hoping our kids will do another.
I think it’s completely natural to give our kids a list of dos and don’ts because you want what’s best for them and hope they become thriving members of society one day. In fact, the older our children get, the more we think about what rules are important to us. We parent in a way we believe will shape them in the best possible way. But as adults, we tend to do the opposite of the advice we give our children. But what if we were better examples in general? What if we were actually able to say, “Do as I say AND as I do?”
But WE are the adults and THEY are children. We have the freedom to make bad decisions for ourselves. Yes, I completely agree. But I don’t think that means that we can’t be aware of how we stack up against the own rules we set in place for our kids. Leading by example will always be a trait I hope to instill in my own sons. I just sometimes forget that I am the example they are following at the moment. So it makes me wonder…
How Well Do I Follow My Own Rules?
Only two hours of screen time a day.
This is a hard and fast rule in our house – that me and my husband do not follow ourselves. We know less screen time leads to better production and brain power, yet we continue to be lured in by a blue light day after day. Our kids see us on our devices constantly, but we still hope that magically one day when they get their own phones, they won’t fall into the same trap. Not likely. They will probably justify their own usage based off our actions, which is a scary thought.
Junk food is bad for you.
Another rule that our kids know all too well is that junk food is for special occasions. Yet, the second I walk out of their rooms after bedtime: Halo Top, come to Momma. My oldest usually sees what I’m eating when he sneaks out of bed for one more kiss and hug, and while he never asks about it, I know he is noticing. He is learning that, as an adult, he will get all the junk food he wants.
Make friends and be an includer.
Making friends doesn’t get any easier the older you get. But we often ask our kids if they made any new friends at school or invited someone playing alone to play. Recently, my son asked me if I made any new friends at work. It made me laugh at first, but then the realization hit me that I could make more of an effort.
Go play outside.
With two sons, my first instinct when they are getting rowdy is to kick them out of the house. They usually complain that it’s hot, but I send them back outside as I enjoy the cool breeze of the AC flowing while I’m doing dishes or cooking. It wasn’t until I followed them outside one day and played ball and tag that I realized there was 30 minutes of nonstop laughs and exercise. Why don’t I do this more? Oh, cause I’m tired and lazy.
Use kind words.
This is a tricky one that I try to be very careful about. Any phone call we take in front of our kids, they are listening and likely taking mental notes. Are we engaging in gossip? Bashing our husbands? Complaining about our kids? Those little ears understand way more than we give them credit. But yet, we send them off to school each morning with a pep talk to use kind words.
Let’s say our prayers.
Sometimes the only example of prayer I give the boys is muttering, “Jesus, help me” during a particularly long day. My oldest recently told me, “I hear you pray, Mom. You ask Jesus for strength when I’m whining.” Yes, son. Yes, I do.
Reaping the Benefits
I’ve thought a lot about this. This really is a win-win on all accounts. I would also reap some pretty good benefits if I stopped using the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do” every time my kids questioned my actions, and instead lived by my own rules.
If I only watched the allotted 2 hours of TV/screen time, then I would probably be forced to read a book and feel better mentally and physically.
If I ate only the things I feed my children, then I would probably be back to my pre-baby weight in no time.
If I went out of my way to make conversation with a new co-worker, then I would probably make a new friend or make someone feel valued.
If I played outside more with my kids, then I would probably sleep better and get in shape quicker, not to mention bond even more with my boys.
If I didn’t complain as much in front of my kids, then I would be forced to look more for the good in people and life.
If I prayed more, then I probably wouldn’t feel like some of my days dragged on because my perspective would shift.
I’m certainly no expert on the subject, but I do believe that if we took our own advice, we may just surprise ourselves with how well Mom actually does know what is best.