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Be a Good Role Model

Be a Good Role Model.

'Do as I say, not as I do' is a common joke among parents, but during the separation period, your children need a strong leader. You know you must lead by example. You can't tell your kids to do one thing and then do another, as they would be quick to point out if you do not follow your own rules. It is important to you that the television doesn't become an electronic babysitter, taking the place of books or conversations. Instead of watching your T.V. in the evening, you read books and encouraged your kids to do the same.

As a single parent, I am sure you have spent time thinking about how you could be a good role model. Perhaps you haven't wanted your children eating junk food, so you have stopped buying it, even though Oreo's and ice cream are your favorite comfort foods. You find yourself watching your alcohol intake because preaching about the evils of drugs and alcohol would be worthless if you drank too much. Also, if you have budding adolescents, you know your kids would rationalize sexually active behavior if men or women spent the night at your home.

Not only do you want to be a good role model, but you want to inspire your children to be better people. It is more than wanting to avoid negative behavior, but desiring to reinforce the good in each child. Praise them and give them the support and attention they crave. When they recognize positive qualities in themselves, they will be able to see the same in others.

Teach your children respect for authority. Never allow them to blame their teachers for bad grades. Don't badmouth police officers on traffic patrol, and immediately move to the side of the road when you hear a siren, allowing fire fighters and ambulances to pass.

Become your children's hero. Be consistent, be fair, and be loving. No matter how hard life is, show your kids the importance of perseverance. Teach them to get up and dust themselves off when life throws them down, and believe tomorrow will be a better day. If you show them the daily beauty in life, they will continue to appreciate and see it for the rest of their lives.

Where Do You Need Help? Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you are good at discipline and lax at family meals. Maybe your children have limited television but play hours of video games. It's hard to be consistent in all areas every single day. Instead of getting frustrated or giving up, begin and end each day with a commitment to be a better parent. Routines take time to develop, and kids will push the envelope to see what your boundaries are. If you try to establish routines, but you can't make them stick, you can get help by joining a parenting support group. Churches, YMCA's and neighborhoods are great resources. It helps to understand other mothers struggle with the same issues. Single parenting isn't so different, but the responsibility is more intense.

The time and effort you put in today will be the best investment you can make as a single parent. The children may need more of your time today, but they will need significantly less as they grow older. Soon the house will be quiet and they will be gone. The carpet will stay vacuumed and no crumbs will be in the living room. You will long for the days the house was filled with noise and laughter.

Think consciously about being a good role model. The benefits will last your children's lifetime.

Dr. Debbie

50 Great Tips, Tricks, & Techniques to Connect With Your Teen

Debra Hapenny Ciavola, Ph.D.

Marriage & Family Therapist


About the Author
Debra Hapenny Ciavola is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working with children, adolescents, and adults. The author of 50 Great Tips, Tricks, and Techniques to Connect with Your Teen, she can be reached at Debra holds a Ph.D. Marriage & Family Therapy, MS Clinical Counseling, BS Child Development, and is a Clinical member of American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy.

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