Years ago, some random professional athlete (whose name I don’t rememebr because they are insignificant in my world) said that pro athletes are not role models to children, they’re just athletes. I couldn’t disagree more. In fact, I’ll take it to the next step and tell you that every adult is a role model to children. Every one of us.
My son, last night, said “Dad, when babies are born they don’t know nothing.” First I corrected his grammer then I agreed and told him how children absorb everything they see and experience. I rubbed my hand on our stair railing and pretending to be a baby said “ Smooth, cool, hard, solid, I can grip it, it is brown and woody, I think I’ll call it wood…” I explained how that little experience of grasping a railing is a massive learning experience to a child; but then again; everything is!
So where do they learn things, other than on the staircases of the world? They learn by experiencing and watching us. My sons will see how to be men by watching their dad and their teachers, coaches, friend’s dads, strangers and then trying on those observations to create experiences. Those experiences work positively leading to “I’m going to be like that” or negatively which leads to “I’m not acting like that again.”
I don’t remember who sent me this video first, but it really exemplifies my point. Watch it, but I will warn you, it’s hard to take at points. I will tell you that I am an emotional guy. I’m a big bald tough guy because my job demands that I be so, but inside I am pretty soft. When I watched this video I got pretty emotional. I was so saddened by the examples of what our kids see and how so many of us are completely oblivious to what we are teaching them. In fact the clip of the dog in the dog house literally was the cause for me losing sleep. I have enjoyed the unconditional love of dogs my whole life and to see this broke my heart. That’s all I’ll say about that.
But let’s examine what lesson our children are learning when:
- We curse at a fellow driver because they drive like an “idiot”?
- When we get over the correct change at the gas station and we pocket the money?
- When we maybe have a beer too many and talk like a “fool”?
- When we disrespect a teacher, a school or something that a child values?
- When we read a book to our kids, regardless of their age?
- When we cheer for our kids at a meet or game even though they’re losing?
I could go on. Think about it, they will do what we do. They may choose to do something else when they try on our behavior for size and it doesn’t fit; but you can bet they’ll try it on. What are you teaching our children? What do you want them to learn?