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Attention dads: your kids become you

Attention dads: your kids become you

Posted: Friday, November 9, 2012 7:03 pm

By TOM TOZER and BILL BLACK
Dad, make no mistake: you are a model for your children as they grow from childhood to those teenage years. Take it from two dads who have experienced it — even when you think your kids aren’t paying attention, they are soaking it all in. Time and time again, both of us have seen our grown children echo some of the precepts that we used to preach and practice—many at which they once shook their heads in disgust.
One family-relationship expert who recently told the story of the dad who came home after work and was scolded by his son for continuing to gaze into his Blackberry instead of listening to what the son was telling him. Modeling behavior. The expert went on to discuss parents sitting in the bleachers at their children’s sporting events. She suggested that what you will see are some dads in the bleachers offering cursory cheers for their child while they are really reading their text messages. Modeling behavior.
Embedded in the fabric
Tom and his brother have often remarked about how both of them sound more and more like their dad. Some of the phrases they utter and mannerisms that surface belong to the Rev. C.P. Tozer. Some of the Reverend’s quirks and preferences are embedded in the fabric of who they have become — even those things that, years ago, they dismissed as old-fashioned or prudish.
They are receiving your signals
As parents, we often think our kids ignore us and never really see or hear us. But their personal antennae are just as powerful and receptive as those cell towers that have shrunk our world. You will be astonished at what your teenagers — either now or in years to come — have picked up from you. You will find it hard to believe that they were usually tuned in to you much more than you ever imagined. After all, you were and are their primary model. They look at you in admiration even when you are convinced they can’t stand the sight of you.
Dad, if you see your son or daughter acting out in a way that you do not approve of, pause for a moment and ask yourself … is that how I act? If your teenager mutters a slur or makes an improper comment about something or someone, does that slur remind you of you?
Your influence is a lasting legacy
Take it a step further and it becomes pretty dicey. If parents cheat on their taxes and worse yet boast about it, reveal prejudices, utter obscenities, fudge on their work time sheets, are poor losers, talk loudly and brashly and always interrupt others, always have to be first in line, drive too fast or text while behind the wheel — and you can think of a hundred other questionable foibles — they are modeling those behaviors for your children.
Make no mistake, your behavior as a parent will come back one day. Published in The WCP 11.8.12

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