New Year’s resolution: Walk the talk |

New Year’s resolution: Walk the talk

YouthZoneRobin TolanGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Can parenting be successful merely by setting the ground rules, or is actually living by them the best example for our kids? As we enter the New Year, it is a good time to reflect on past parenting faux pas, and take steps to setting “walk the talk” examples for our kids.We ask ourselves, “Why are my kids not doing what I tell them to do?” Well, what are you doing or not doing that is speaking louder than your words? Kids’ inevitable response to hypocrisy is, “But Mom, you do it.” Parents say, “Don’t ever smoke, it can kill you,” as they light up. Perhaps you make the common mistake of demanding, “Go clean up your room,” as you step over piles of week-old laundry. Or, washing your kids mouth out with soap for swearing, right after they hear you say, “Bleep, bleep, I told you not to say that!” And my favorite, “Don’t eat that, it’s bad for you,” after you’ve eaten three candy bars. This hypocrisy is confusing to kids. Our actions speak louder than our words, and as our kids become adults, this hypocrisy becomes more obvious and the consequences much more serious. As I have heard many times, “Why are my grown children always late for work and keep quitting their jobs?” Or, “Why do they always blame other people for their problems?” If you are asking such questions, ask yourself how you have walked the talk in regards to honesty and a good work ethic. Perhaps you are calling work, pretending to be sick, complaining about your boss and how you hate your job, then turning around and telling them never to lie or complain. Are you blaming someone else for your unhappiness while telling them not to blame someone else for their problems? Though our kids may constantly command us to stay out of their lives and leave them alone (I’ve heard that a lot, too), they are, in fact, still watching our every move, looking to us as key role models in their lives.Making a difference in our kids’ lives may be as simple as looking at our own. Try to put in writing what you have asked or told your kids to do, and look at it every day as a reminder to yourself. Observe just one behavior in yourself that you want to change, then enlist your kids to help support you by recognizing your progress and celebrating your success. That is a great way to model how to make positive changes.Lastly, there are times when an objective observer is really the key to helping us see where we need support in parenting. YouthZone has many programs, classes and coaching that are all designed to encourage and build strong families. Here’s to a new chance in 2007 to grow and learn right along with our kids as we “walk the talk.”Robin Tolan is director of development at YouthZone.

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