Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Case of Parental Hypocrisy

While I am certain I am not the only parent to camp firmly in the "do as I say, not as I do" side of the fence, I will admit that it always feels a little bad when some startling realization hits. I try to justify that, of course I would want only the very best for my children. And many times "the very best" is better than than I personally do or say.

I know, Amy, that I don't eat enough vegetables. I know you hate them. And I know it's very hypocritical for me to ask you to eat them when I don't. But, I want better for you than I do for myself! Same for Emma and house cleaning, and Keith and exercising.

Can a child be trained to do something if the the parent doesn't set the example? Thankfully, yes. Obviously, many, many people have not only survived their parents, but lived to thrive despite of them.

But how can I help my children be better people, if I can't even manage it myself? If I can't motivate myself to do 30 minutes of exercise per day, what right do I have to tell Keith that he has to? Or have Emma clean her room, or Amy eat her vegetables? Circle back around to that "do as I say, not as I do" thing.

Oh, but the oldest child cries, "Foul! No Fair! Why should I have to do it, if you don't?"

"Because, I am your parent," which is my least favorite answer in the world, but as a parent, encompasses more than words could ever say. "Besides, if I jumped off of a cliff, does that make it okay for you to do, too?"

"Yes," youngest child declares.

"No," I retort, "It does not."

"Why not?" youngest child demands.

"Because, I am your parent," I say, again with the non-answer that simply closes down the conversation.

But if I think about it, it goes back to wanting the best for my children. I may not be able to achieve all that I think is perfect/proper/wonderful. But there's no reason, given the advantages I can bestow as a parent, that my children can not.

"But what if we don't want to?" practical, middle child asks...

Hmm. Good question...

My "do as I say, not as I do," persona raises her hand: "You can do what you want when you live in your own house. Until then, you will do as I say."

Ha. Case Closed.

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