I wish parents are the number one role models for their children but unfortunately, that is most often not the reality. Who is a role model? A role model is a person looked to by others to be imitated for their behaviour or achievement. A role model can be popular or just simply known (and chosen) by the admirer or follower.
Why the need for role models? Individuals always compare themselves to people that possess the behaviours or success that they aspire to have and this gives room for most successful businessmen, politicians, athletes, religious leaders, and artists to be seen as role models.
As a parent, you are indeed the most qualified person to be your child’s role model. You are the face she first saw, admired, and loved! And you ought to be her main role model. You don’t have to be on a billboard or on the TV screen to be your child’s foremost role model but you can occupy the mind of your child with words and images of your character and values that would propel her to achieving her dreams in life.
After a while, say toddlerhood, being your child’s role model is not going to be automatic or sustained by doing nothing, you must achieve it deliberately. The following are four easy steps to help you become the foremost role model for your child.
Identify your values in life
Your values are the beliefs that you are emotionally invested in. They drive your decisions and actions. Your behaviours cannot be separated from your values and vice versa. According to Tony Hsieh, your personal core values define who you are. So, what are the values you are invested in? Are they good for God and humanity? This is important because the essence of every positive value is that it syncs well with the morals of the Creator and improves the world. Take a piece of paper and list out the values you most cherish and live by (or want to live by). Values such as kindness, diligence, excellence, honesty, charity, and so on are a good few to mention and adopt.
Epitomise your values to your child
Again, your values drive your actions. For example, if you value kindness, you must express it by assisting and helping others. Your child should see your acts of kindness often. The times you helped your neighbour with a box of matches or some cooking oil are opportunities to help your child develop a kind heart. If you value diligence, your child must see that in the way you attend to tasks and your job. Do you rise early to get to work on time? Do you give up easily on difficult tasks like fixing that broken bicycle chain in your garage? And if excellence is one of your bywords, do you express that by giving attention to details? Does your child see you wear torn or rough clothes? If you practice these values effortlessly, you would not need to give a million sermons to your child about them.
Discuss your values with your child
Though the popular saying that action speaks louder than words would take effect and mould your child’s value system ‘consciously and unconsciously’ nonetheless just so you are both clear, you can further discuss these values with your child and mutually agree that they are part of your family’s moral encryption. This means you will hold each other accountable for these values.
Project your role models to your child
This should be the easiest step for you. To show proof of the merit and benefits of your values, you need to always celebrate great achievers, that is, your role models who have the same values as you do in the hearing and presence of your child. Show them to your child when you see them on the TV screen, in a book, on social media, and where ever you see them. Say, ‘That is so and so. He is bla la bla. He did this and that.’ Talk to your child about them regularly. And when you also see (or know) people with conflicting values, discuss them with your child so she is well informed about values that are worth emulating and those that are not. This way no one can tell her a dog is a monkey! Yes, that’s a Yoruba adage.
Always remember that every adult and child is searching for inspiration and this would be satisfied by popular individuals such as celebrities, politicians, academicians, business moguls, religious leaders, and so on. The challenge is that not all of these popular people have the same value as you and they might have gotten to the zenith of their career on a ride with undesirable values and your child wouldn’t know that. Your child needs to know that, ‘all that glitters is not gold’. If you decide to live a life that is driven by positive values, it would be difficult for a total stranger no matter his or her good looks, oratory power, or followership to sneak into your child’s life and occupy the revered office of a role model.
It is certainly not too late to be the foremost role model for your child. Take the steps mentioned above and you would turn out as one. Your child’s future would be better for it. And posterity would celebrate you.
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