The biggest reality check for new parents is realising it’s not about ‘me’ anymore—our needs (especially for sleep!) must now be balanced against those of our baby.
This early parenting lesson stands us in good stead throughout our children’s lives. Our overall parenting goal is to instil wisdom and life skills in our children, building into their lives by our words, actions and attitudes.
2 Timothy 1:5 treminds us a parent’s good example can extend through generations: ‘I also remember the genuine faith of your mother Eunice. Your grandmother Lois had the same sort of faith, and I am sure that you have it as well’ (CEV).
But how to be a good role model?
1. Keep learning and growing: remember that we’re all works in progress, so never be content to sit back and stagnate. Look for the opportunity to develop new life skills and strategies—staying sharp will help you inspire and motivate your children.
2. Walk the talk: be the same in private as you are in public. If you can prove by your actions that your professed values are strong enough to live by, your children will be more likely to follow in your footsteps.
3. Admit your failings: no one gets everything right 100 per cent of the time. Be honest about your own inadequacies and stumbles; don’t cover them up or minimise them. Don’t give the impression that it’s wrong to fail, but teach children that failures can be welcomed as learning opportunities.
4. Get some support: setting a positive example to your children is one of the most important things you can do, but you don’t have to do it on your own. Rally some supporters to talk with about areas you’re finding challenging. There’s lots of wisdom out there, so learn from the experiences of others.
5. Guard your spirit: the most important thing for any role model is their personal integrity. Tap into the wisdom of the Bible and the always available resource of prayer—these spiritual tools will help you establish strong boundaries to keep your own life on track. That way you’ll be a great example for others to follow.