“Do as I say, not as I do" is sort of a parenting theme around my house. I'd like to think all parents follow this mantra, and the things moms do when they think their kids aren't looking are at least party to blame for this eternal adage's prevalence. My parents spent their life telling my brother and I not to smoke... then they rolled up the windows in the car during family road trips and lit up their cigarettes. They told us not to drink... then downed shots with their friends. Telling us not to do something, then doing it themselves, was considered part of parenting.
I openly curse in front of my children, but I tell them not to. I’m a believer in setting a good example for children and teaching by modeling positive behaviors, to be sure, but I also firmly believe that children should be able to understand that adults have certain privileges that children simply do not, and vice versa. For example, I can no longer run around naked at the pool, but my toddler certainly can (and does).
When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I were celebrating some event and, as the celebration came to a close, realized we had a substantial amount of leftover cake. The following evening we decided to eat that cake for dinner... so we did. We enjoyed that delicious chocolate cake with no remorse, but swore we’d never tell our kids that we skipped dinner and went straight to dessert. And that, my friends, is just the beginning:
I don’t know about other moms, but I am the queen of sneaking dessert when the kids aren’t looking. I tend to sneak candy, cupcakes, and ice cream right after I tell my kids it's "too late in the day for sugar." I'm a monster, I know.
I tell my kids not to gossip, and that it's not nice, but on the phone with my girlfriends I let it all out. I’ve got plenty of interesting things to discuss, but sometimes superficial gossip is all I need in my life.
Throw Away Or Donate Toys
Raise your hand if your kids are major hoarders and they want to keep every single crappy little toy they own, even the ones that are broken and no longer have any use of any kind. My kids want to keep every item from those horrid birthday goodie bags, even the apparently one-time-use slinky that breaks the moment you play with it. So when it’s time to clean out their rooms, I must do so when they are either not home or are sleeping.
One time my son saw I was collecting some of this cars and trucks for donations and he questioned me for about an hour. He finally gave up when I reminded him that the holidays were coming up and he will get more toys than he will know what to do with. So, yeah, lesson learned: clean when the kids aren’t looking.
Criticize Their Appearance
Would I ever want my daughter to know how I speak about myself when she isn’t around or listening? Absolutely not. I know I shouldn't be speaking negatively about myself at all, but a lifetime of being told you’re not good enough by advertisers, cover girls, and the general media has a lasting impact. In any case, when I’m critiquing my stomach or my arms, I don’t want my kids listening to me.
I curse in front of my kids and I don’t really care about it. To me, cursing enhances some necessary messaging. However, many parents only curse when they know their children aren’t listening, and only in the company of other adults.
I’m a mess. I’ve been a mess since I was a kid. My mom would yell at me every week, telling me that no one will be friends with someone who is this messy. Well, I proved her wrong. Not only did I have plenty of friends, I am now married, have two kids, and make a huge mess in my own home.
Still, I try to contain the mess to my bedroom/bathroom because I’m trying to make sure my kids don’t grow up to be a mess like their mother. I wonder if that will work.