Mama you also do it!
Our children’s eyes are on us all the time. What kind of example are you, asks Masanda Peter.
On my way home from fetching my son from preschool, I asked him to put his seat belt on. I am very strict about the seatbelt. Of course I should have checked this before even starting my car but I want him to be responsible and get used to doing this without being prompted.

‘You also don’t have your seat belt on, Mama,’ came the response. I was a little embarrassed by his response – there I was telling him what to do and I was not doing the same. I quickly apologised and put on my seat belt and he followed suit.

This got me thinking of the things we expect our children to do while we do the exact opposite. The response from my son was a clear indication that he was watching my actions and even questioned me about it.

Wait until you’re older

I wonder if the parents who drink or smoke in front of their children have a right to tell them not to do the same. Yes, being an adult you can do whatever you want but how do you deal with the subject to the kids? Is it perhaps a case of ‘when you are older, you can also drink or smoke’?

Are we telling our kids that when you are older you can do the things you were not allowed in your childhood? I know there are certain things I would not do in front of my son because I do not want him to follow suit. I cannot tell him one thing and expect the other from him. I need to be consistent as his mother. I also do not want him one day to tell me ‘but mama you also drank or smoked’ (for example).

There are many examples out there I could use but this one comes to mind as it is a common one. In terms of the acceptability of these habits I am sure it depends from family to family.

Same goes for parents who are abusive to each other in front of their children – physically and verbally. Research has show that children who come from such environments can become abusive themselves at a later stage.

As for cheating, this one is amazing to me. I once overheard a father looking at his son with pride that he is taking right after him with his womanising. Instead of reprimanding the son he was beaming with pride on how his son had his way with the ladies reminding him of his younger days: ‘ubukhali unyana ufuze ngexesha lam’ (my son is reminding me of my heyday). Where is the responsible parenting in that?

Different strokes for different folks but let’s set good examples for our children.

Read more by Masanda Peter

What do you tell children about following your example?

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