Monday, March 23, 2009

8) Parenting through Example

"The only way to raise a decent human being is by being one." Ms Edna LeShan, American Psychologist.

Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Peace Prize Winner(1952), a genius and one who put love into action, laid down three basic rules for parenting: Rule 1 - Example; Rule 2 - Example; Rule 3 - Example. In one mighty heave, he placed Example at the pinnacle. It will stay there with little danger of being dislodged. Why? Think of a candle burning bright. It can light many candles and still glow no less. That is what Example does. Like rain and snow which fall gently from the heavens to water the earth, a good example nourishes those who are moistened by it.

We often hear children ask their parents inconvenient questions:
* "Mummy, you tell me not to lie. Then why did you lie to aunt Jane?"
* "Daddy, you tell me to keep my promises. Why don't you keep your promises to me?"
* "Mummy, you tell us not to waste money. Why do you waste money on so many parties?"
Would a son respect a father who exhorts him to be honest, when the father himself will not give up his dishonest ways? Will a daughter admire and be drawn to her mother who chides her for not being discreet and guarded in her speech, when she sees her mother constantly faulting others in non-stop chatter?

If parents are not consistent in words and deeds, they are asking for trouble, because today children are not afraid to question them; unlike children of old who implicitly obeyed parents. When parents do not obey the rules they frame, when they do not keep the norms they set, when their preaching and practice are discordant, they do not earn the respect of their children. Children would rather observe and imitate the example they see in their parents, than follow what parents say. No wonder Oliver Goldsmith asserts: "You can preach a better sermon with your life, than with your lips". If parents do not walk the talk, they forfeit the claim to obedience from children.

It does not mean that parents have to be perfect. As long as children see their parents as heavenward-looking, down-to-earth Role Models, they will bond with them.


  1. This is the hardest part, because we are often too caught up in the hustle of living day to day that we lack the patience and forbearance required. We forget the hopes and dreams with which we decided to have children in the first place and they become almost obstacles in our fast-track lives. We need to take a step back and renew our responsibility to our kids, every day, every week, every month, every year. It's tough but we owe them and ourselves that.

  2. Readily agree that this is the hardest, but perhaps the most powerful message for parents.

    I know that was how my Dad and Mum brought me up and everything I learned from them was simply because it was backed up by their own example.

    A tough act to follow!