Walk It Like You Talk It.
(ThyBlackMan.com) There’s an important part of being a responsible adult, a role-model for the young people we want to bring up to be good people who will think of others and do the right thing when presented with a difficult decision. That’s to make sure that however we advise them to behave, to act towards others, to care for the people and property around them, we ourselves actually do the things we promote to them.
This isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds. That’s because exhorting others to be good people is a much easier thing to do than being a good person yourself. Sometimes you just want to rest, or do something other than what you know you should do. But living up to the standards you ask of others, particularly the young folks who look to you for guidance, is vital. Those young people are very sensitive to any instances of “do as I say, not as I do.”
It doesn’t hurt (in fact it probably helps) to let the young folks know that you want them to tell you any time they see you falling short of the standards you’re asking them to meet. Accepting criticism and changing your behavior to address it is another example of how to be a responsible adult, and one that is probably best taught by seeing the role-model doing it. If you want them to follow your example, be a good example to follow!
When the young people fall short of some standard and need correction, it’s best to give the correction calmly and quietly. Loud and angry words only embarrass and humiliate those receiving them, and often have exactly the opposite effect you want; they can make the receiver determined not to comply. But don’t mistake being calm and quiet with letting the unacceptable behavior pass unaddressed. You can be calm and still be an unmovable rock. When I was raising my son I found a good way to approach things was to explain what was expected and required of him, and what the consequences would be of failing to meet those expectations. It’s often the uncertainty about what will happen if you fail that is the biggest problem with trying something.
Role-models (you and I) don’t need to shoulder the burden alone, of course. Sometimes the best way to figure out a course of action when you’re having difficulty getting through to a young person is to talk to other role-models in the community, or even to your own role-model if he or she’s available. That’s something else it’s important to teach—you don’t have to do everything by yourself, it’s OK to ask for advice and help when you need it.
Just remember this, in the words of Christ from the gospel of John: “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” The best way to make our young people be good, responsible adults is for us to be good, responsible adults ourselves and let them see us do it. And to let them know that this is what’s expected of them.
Staff Writer; Douglas Loss