Dr. Rich Patterson


Bad Habits that Hurt Kids

As an educator I have to admit that sometimes the time I spent with parents just didn’t make sense.  I might have a student in my office for fighting or something as serious, and when the parent comes to school upon my request, they totally support their child fighting.  Or a student who was smoking on campus and then I discover the parent smokes and allows them to smoke at home.

As adults, when we have kids to raise, the standards for our own behavior just got much higher.  We have to set the example about everything, smoking, drinking, driving frustrations, rude people the list goes on and on.  When we display our bad habits then, in effect, we’re saying to our kids, it’s OK if you do the same.  I know we don’t mean that, nor would we come out and say that, but our behavior has a big effect on kids.

Let’s say you’re in a situation at a store where someone is really rude to you.  Maybe they display prejudice against you, or are just real short and dismissive with you.  You have your kids with you and they are watching all of this.  So, you have a choice, you can act rude back to them.  After all, you can justify it by their treatment of you, or you can dig deeper into your character and be nice back to them even though you’re experiencing otherwise.

What bad habits do you have as a parent that display an OK sign to your kids?  Consider changing them, or better yet, back track a bit with them in conversation and own your mistakes.  A conversation such as, “Hey, John.  I want to own something that you witnessed that I’m not proud of.  When that clerk was rude to me and treated me with a lack of respect, I lost it.  But that isn’t the way to behave.  I just want you to know that just because you experience something negative from someone else, you still have a choice as to how you behave.  The next time we’re in a situation like that, I would like to demonstrate a higher level behavior for you.”  That will go a long ways to helping our kids be their best.  To help them live with a deeper sense of tolerance and character than even we have.

After all, that is our goal, isn’t it?  That our kids do better than we have done?  It’s never too late to make the change, even if you kids are grown and you’ve made a lot of mistakes.  Call them up and own a few things, you’ll be surprised at where the conversation goes.

I’m interested in your thoughts below.