I’ve waited my whole life to be a parent and often found myself, quite unconsciously, over-prepared to be one.
I had ideas, big and small, about what kind of mother I wanted to be, and triple that number for what kind of mother I didn’t want to be.
I have taken the responsibility of motherhood seriously, in the hope of inspiring my children in their formative years and setting a good example for them to follow.
And yet, the older my children got, the more I realised how ambitious I had been in this regard. And how misguided I was to think that I could come close to being as good a role model to my kids as they have been to me.
This thought had been running through my head, all muddled up, until one day, my 8-year-old daughter came home from school to tell me that her third grade class was starting a unit on role models. They were each asked to invite a guest speaker, and she wanted me to come and speak.
This felt like the perfect moment to voice my suspicion that we, as adults, are not really role models, but that children themselves can make excellent role models for their parents.
I wondered how they would take it.
At first, the kids were taken aback by this role reversal and the hidden praise that came with it. But as we continued our conversation, they nodded in agreement and understanding. It hit me with even greater clarity how right this train of thought felt.
The points below highlight why children should be seen as our role models. And for parents, it’s time we consider whether we have attained their adulation simply by virtue of being their parents or if we are truly deserving of it.
Physical capabilities: Children have an enviable physicality—they pick up skills and talents with such grace and at amazing speeds. Watch the effortless cartwheel of a young ballerina or the passionate dedication of a young footballer trying to master Messi’s latest move. Too often, we teach them to be lazy or take their bodies for granted. But when a child has been raised in a healthy, active environment, it is a delight to see their athletic ability grow.
Ideas: Children, more often than not, think outside the box, focusing on simple and creative solutions to big problems. As adults, we often claim to not have a choice in our daily negotiations, therefore teaching our children to limit their own idea potential. Have you ever tried discussing an issue at work, or a relationship problem, with your child? Just notice the simple and workable solutions they come up with.
Energy: Children have bountiful energy. Their smiles and enthusiasm add colour to our world. As parents, our poor energy levels can often feel disappointing to them. Notice how children treat every moment as precious and don’t contemplate the gravity of a moment as it passes them by, because they are so busy living it.
Attitudes: Adults bicker and complain about each other, letting our children see our prejudices. Kids, on the other hand, often settle differences easily and know how to let go and have fun. They know how to fight and make up, forgive and forget, and most importantly, believe in each other.
Respect for animals: We want to protect our children from animals. We raise them in urban, sanitised, concrete buildings and entertain them in shopping malls. However, kids possess an innate compassion and care for animals and they show this openly. They accept animals into their surroundings with love and camaraderie.
Love for nature and the environment: As adults, we often want the latest things and create waste easily and thoughtlessly. When kids learn to recycle, reuse, preserve and conserve, they genuinely make an effort. We need to learn to encourage their efforts, without allowing our cynicism to impact their enthusiasm.
Balance: Children are naturally balanced. As parents, we can often focus on (and openly discuss) how stressed or out of balance we are. When our kids find themselves out of balance, they naturally tune back into themselves effortlessly by increasing their rest, relaxation or fun.
Food: Our struggles with weight loss, weight gain, emotional eating and cravings can become all-encompassing. Watch your child eat. They eat what they love and have a happy, healthy relationship with their body.
And yet, instead of enriching our lives through their leadership, we as parents choose to mold them in our image. Then we expect them to be inspired by us.
I’m not suggesting we discredit all our parental instincts and knowledge on how to raise our kids. As parents, we should continue to do our best for them. However, this generation seems to have an inherent awareness and higher consciousness. It seems to be a great time for us to start learning from them.
Author: Madhuri Kudva
Editor: Nicole Cameron