Lead by example

Before we had children, I used to throw out an occasional curse word. I'm not proud of it, but I did because it didn't mean anything to me.

When you grow up in an old-fashioned Irish Catholic household, some words come out regularly, and it's not intended to disrespect the Lord. It's just the way it was. Sometimes a good-bad word got the point across.

When I married and had children, my husband did not share the same appreciation for the language and felt it was not setting a good example for our kids. He was right, and I stopped, but it was hard. I had to think before I spoke, especially when I was upset. It made me realize I swore more than I thought, because it was hard!

Leading by example can be challenging at times. It requires real discipline and change, which takes work. We are surrounded by rules, guidelines and choices every day. Most of us don't think much about it, but our young people are watching. They are watching how we handle things and whether we follow the rules.

Life gets so busy most of us don't think about it. We are running from commitment to commitment and not thinking about who's watching. Following rules is the least of our worries when we are running late. It's crucial that we try, and when we mess up, we have to own it, say it was wrong and try to do better going forward. We are still human, after all, but if we don't follow the guidelines put in place, why should they?

This morning I pulled into St. Raphael to drop off my son for school, and a woman in a minivan was in front of me doing the same. I thought nothing of it until she decided to turn around and head back toward the entrance, passing the sign that said One Way on School Days.

This woman went into oncoming traffic at a SCHOOL and seemed to think nothing of it. Did she think the rule was for other people and not her? Did she think she wouldn't get caught? How about the people she was driving into that had to swerve so she could get by? Did she care if she hit someone in the process and hurt them? What message did she send to her children and other children? Rules are not meant to be considered and followed if you feel like it.

Sometimes it isn't easy to think about how our actions affect our offspring, but can we expect them to make good choices in life if we don't show them what that looks like? We need to lead by example if we are going to stand a chance of raising good kids that follow the rules and think of others.

I have a friend who told me a story recently that was interesting. He said several kids had gotten into trouble and been taken to the Bay Village jail. Their parents were called and had to pick each one up at the police station. He asked the police officer how he would know if the kid would be a repeat offender and be back. The police officer told him, without hesitation: the parents. He watches how the parents respond. If the parents blame the police and justify the child's actions, the kid is coming back. If the parents are upset and put consequences in place verbally with the child, chances are good they are not coming back.

Something to think about: Let's try to lead by example for our children.

Colleen Harding

President of The Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol.   I am a member St Raphael Women's Guild, Friends of the Westside Catholic Center and The Avon Oaks Women's Golf Association.

I live in Bay Village with my husband and 3 children.   

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Volume 15, Issue 2, Posted 10:10 AM, 02.07.2023