Do as I say, not as as I do… I find it ironic that if you type this saying into Google’s search engine, the Wikipedia site pops up under the word “Hypocrisy”. This word comes from the Greek hypokrisis, which has numerous, interconnected meanings including but not limited to ‘jealous’, ‘play-acting’ and ‘coward’. This ties in nicely to a recent tweet that I posted concerning my son, or rather concerning my (sometimes self-berated and often times overrated) parenting abilities on his behalf. To my sixty-five followers on Twitter I admitted to my own hypocrisy in a simple truth as the title of this blog infers – that if he continues to do the same thing, he will continue to get the same results, and that I should better listen to my own words.
When I later reread my post, I began to question my ability to follow my own given advice even further. For not only would it be unacceptable to impart such wisdom to my child without actually following it, but it would also as the word implies, be a true act of cowardice. I realized that here I am as a mother, trying to teach my ten year old son that if he doesn’t change his behavior or actions, things won’t get better, and then realizing that I do not at all live by them.
Once I reflected on and understood how wide the chasm was between my “saying” and my “doing”, it’s frankly amazing that I could even have said this to him with a straight face. Here are some keen examples of my shortcomings, to name just a few… I sometimes wonder why my extended family doesn’t reach out to me more, yet how often do I initiate the conversation. I still bite my nails, a terrible habit that my mother said I was literally born doing, yet I wonder why I never allow myself a manicure. I still haven’t finished my second novel, yet I continue to sign up for and volunteer for more extracurricular activities than any unpaid person ever should. I will stop here, for my list of my grievances could undoubtedly go on and on (and on), but I believe my point has been made and in my defense, I’d rather not continue.
So for 2015, I foresee a year filled with challenges and accomplishments as my children and I struggle to learn, grow and survive in this crazy world. I have decided that my New Year’s resolution will not just be to finish my second book, or prepare better dinners for my family. Now that I’m acutely aware of how much better off my children will be if I adhere to my advice, I resolve to lead by example and to not be a coward as a person or as a mother. My resolution will be to listen closely to my words as I try with the best of abilities to raise my children to be wonderful, responsible and caring citizens on our planet. My personal desire is that I will not have been a hypocrite, nor behaved as a coward in front of those whom I love.
As the psychologist Jonathan Haidt once wrote, “Enlightenment and wisdom require us all to take the logs out of our own eyes, and escape from our ceaseless, petty, and divisive moralism.” Let’s hope that I am able to do the same… Do you also struggle with being the best parent, and person, that you can be? Do you ever find yourself not living by the advice you give?