An interesting thought, and one that most never ponder, until they have to that is, is what would your kids say if they saw you now? Would they let you off the hook and say, “Well, you were young” or will they hold us to a higher standard, one that you will be probably holding them to? Telling them things like, “you won’t be young forever” will then come off as hypocritical if we’re not careful. The problem with not considering this, though, until you have kids, is that it’s usually too late.
Most people think that when the time comes, they will automatically be ready to be parents and be ready to be an example to the pair of bright little eyes staring back up at them, but the truth of the matter is that you’re never really ready, unless you’re practicing holding yourself to a higher level and a higher standard — starting right now. The issue is really that we most usually play the real game just as we practiced. You slack off during practice, you’re almost sure to play poorly. Whereas if you practice harder, the game is almost guaranteed to be that much easier, slower even, with you being able to make decisions deliberately and in real time as if everything were in slow motion. This is the beauty of practice.
To begin practice on being a parent isn’t as tough as you might think either, and I don’t mean the fun part of practice either. Ahem, I’m talking about practicing the art of saying no. I mean practicing the art of good character — that is doing the right thing when no one is watching, and I also mean being ever conscious of minding what you say before you say it. Give yourself this litmus test before speaking your next several words, and see where you rank: (A) Is it true? (B) Is it kind? or (C) Is is necessary? If you haven’t answered yes to at least three of those individual questions, then chances are, there is no reason to say it. Another way to think of it is this: Do your words improve upon the silence? Again, if the answer is no, think again. These couple activities are so critical because they all have to do with ensuring that one of the greatest computers known to man, the brain of the child, is receiving an as pure as possible steady stream of righteous programming. Trust me when I tell you, that kids remember everything. Even when you think they are completely zoned out, they have just heard it all, and will quote it back to you at the most inopportune of times. So whatever you say to them or AROUND them is absolutely critical, and believe it or not, but sometimes the “around” them part is of more importance that the actually “to” them part of it because the ‘around them’ part involves them observing us too.
However, I don’t want anyone to think I’m advocating not having fun or doing what young people do. That’s not it at all, but what I am saying is to be mindful of the fact that it’s hard to turn on responsible behavior. I’m also saying it’s possible to have a good time and not go overboard. In one of my favorite movies, and an all-time classic, Back to the Future, the main character Marty McFly accidentally travels back in time to when his parents are high schoolers. How interesting it was for him to see that parents, his mother in particular, participated in every bad thing she was now telling him not to do, but now that he knew the truth she lost just a little bit of credibility with Marty. So while we don’t have time machines (yet), we have our conscious and reminders like this one because your kids might not be watching you now (or even exist yet), but one day they will.
Sadiq Ali, MBA, is the author of Millionaire Manners, a book all about etiquette for men. He is also a speaker, trainer, professor, father, brother, husband, all around fun guy and many other things we can’t type here. He’s also the founder of Millionaire Manners Academy, a training and educational consulting practice. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Sadiq’s LinkedIn.