I have been listening and reading a lot of Seth Godin’s work. He is a thought leader and entrepreneur. He has been an inspiration to me. So many of his ideas have daily relevance to how we think and live our lives. His mantra is ‘people like us do things like this’ and I think this is so very relevant to us as parents.
For me, this is almost the exact opposite as the saying “do as I say, not as I do”. I have heard many parents yell these words to their children “don’t you yell at me”. ‘Do as I say not as I do’ creates distance. It says, I don’t need to abide by this rule because I am bigger and more powerful. It says ‘do as I say, not as I do’. This is not how good leaders lead. In these moments, we seem to forget that it’s our human condition to copy and follow behaviours, especially from those we look up to.
Instead, we need to make a choice to think ‘people like us do things like this’. We need to show in our actions how we want our children to be. This creates connection. It is not in the telling or lecturing but rather in the doing that people and children take notice. It’s in seeing gratitude, kindness, determination, grit, persistence or whatever else we want to instil that they will think ‘oh, so people like us do things like this’. And next we need to notice and highlight that in our children.
So you need to decide, ‘do as I say not as I do’ or ‘people like us do things like this’. If you do something that you start seeing in your children and you don’t like it, the answer is to start working to change that in yourself - not in your children.
It’s damn hard to accept that we are always sending the message to our children ‘people like us do things like this’, as we often want our children to be different to us - to be without our negative attributes. But within this idea, we can send the message that ‘people like us’ make mistakes and ‘people like us’ can work hard to grow and change. This is possibly the best gift we can give our children.