role model

Being a Role Model in Challenging Times

Dear Mr. Dad: Everyone says that as parents, we’re supposed to be good role models for our kids. That sounds like a great idea, but why do so many parents (and other people) behave in such awful ways? The phrase “good role model” seems easy enough to understand, but maybe it’s not. In your view, what, exactly is a “good role model” supposed to do?

A: As almost any parent knows, our kids are paying very close attention to everything we do, yes, even (maybe especially) when we think they’re ignoring us. We also know that they’ll imitate what we do, even (definitely especially) behaviors we might regret. But in my view, being a role model is much more about who you are than what you do.

Simply put, if you want your children to behave ethically, make good choices (tough ones included), and treat others and themselves with respect, you’ll have to do more than simply behave well. You’ll also need to talk. Discuss challenging issues and point out examples of good and bad behavior, whether it’s at the grocery store, in a movie or TV show, a book, or in someplace like Charlottesville, Virginia. Try to imagine what motivates people to make the choices they do and what your child (and you) would have done instead. You don’t always have to agree—with each other or with the people you’re talking about. Your objective is to get your children to think deeply about things before jumping to conclusions and, more importantly, to make good choices even when you’re not there to guide them.

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Armin Brott

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Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.

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