Parents should model what they teach. They should already be the kind of people they want their children to become. The parents should put forth a model of personal integrity and a loving marriage. The greatest gift (besides life) that parents can give their children is a home that is peaceful, warm, accepting, safe and secure. The first great building block of that home is a solid, functional, loving marriage. As an outgrowth of this marital relationship the parents model how to communicate, how to love, how to disagree, and how to negotiate; they model principles and virtues. They are the embodiment of what they teach; they are kind, gentle, hardworking, patient, understanding, tolerant, and resolute in keeping their standards. They are consistent in their instructions, are open and interested in their children, excited about their activities and progress, make the children feel treasured, cherished and important, and they require responsibility, accountability and impose or allow consequences.
Parents Need to Be a Role Model for Teenagers
All this is done in an accepting manner; never critical or judgmental, harsh or unkind. Parents can only teach a virtue that they possess and model. We teach what we really are and cannot teach anything else. No parent can lead children to where they themselves have not been. Parents cannot lift children to higher ground than they themselves are standing upon. There are no secrets in the home and children can see through sham and hypocrisy. They feel it, they sense it, and so it is necessary for parents to be what they wish to teach their children.
The parent does not say, “Do what I say, not what I do.” Someone has said, “I cannot hear what you say when what you are thunders so loudly in my ears!” Remember, whatever you are, you model, and whatever you model, you teach. By proper modeling the parent invites in the son or daughter to a higher moral life. There is no other way, no short cut, no substitute for proper, good, virtuous role models. You are a model. Whether you like it or not, you are an example and you cannot escape that fact. The truth: we are either good examples or we are bad examples to our children!