“Y’all drink too much juice,” I told my kids a few weeks ago.
I was on that it’s-the-New-Year-so-we-need-to-have-better-healthier-habits kick and we were going through a couple cartons of orange juice and lemonade a week. I wanted them to drink more water.
But you know it’s hard to change a habit simply using your words. You’ve got to act. If you don’t act, then nothing changes. So I made drinking water my personal goal. I filled up my water bottle at least four times a day and make sure the kids saw me sipping water all day long.
Now they pack their own lunches and instead of grabbing juice boxes, they pack water bottles. All on their own. I didn’t say anything about juice boxes versus water bottles. They simply made the switch and now I’m thrilled they’re getting better hydration.
This is one of those realities of parenting that you don’t really pick up on until you’ve got a few years in the game. Your children are always watching you. They may tune you out when you start fussing, but they are always watching you.
They watch how you handle an unexpected change of plans.
They watch how you handle bad news.
They watch how you handle good news.
They watch how you handle interactions with people you don’t like (you think they don’t know you have beef with your sister? Oh trust me, they know).
They watch how you handle insane traffic jams.
They watch how you handle yourself when you have something important to do.
Their eyes are on you until they leave your home and by then, they’re almost fully formed. Parenting is by example, not by lecture.
If you want your children to be respectful, be respectful.
If you want your children to be kind and caring, be kind and caring.
If you want your children to be responsible, be responsible.
Actions, not speeches, are what separate the best parents from the worst. We not only talk the talk but we walk the walk. Your children will know the difference.