Parenting by example

Some years back, my neighbour, a businessman, had mentioned that he normally discusses the highlights of his day’s work with his family during dinner. This was his way of grooming his 9 years old son who, he hoped, would eventually take over his business. One evening, when this neighbour’s son was playing with his friends, his elder sister reminded him that he had not prepared sufficiently for his Mathematics test the next day. The boy, obviously more concerned about his game than about the next day’s test, ignored her. She pointed out that he had to do well in that test to make up for his poor performance in the previous test. If he did badly in the next day’s test, he would be in trouble. His reply: “Don’t worry, Didi! I’m sure I’ll do well tomorrow. By chance, if I do badly, I’ll bribe the teacher to give me good marks.” Obviously, my neighbour’s grooming was effective!

On another day, I was at another neighbour’s house when his son returned after purchasing some items from the local grocer. The boy handed over the bill and the change to his mother, who realised that the grocer had given excess change by mistake, Rs. 37 instead of Rs. 27. She requested her son to return the excess amount to the grocer immediately. The 12 years old boy was reluctant to go out again as it was very hot outside. His mother insisted, explaining that, while Rs. 10 was a minor amount for them, it was a significant amount for the grocer, hence they should not take even the slightest chance that they would forget to return it later. To the best of my knowledge, the mother was not trying to groom her son. She was only doing what she thought was correct. In the process, she was being a wonderful role model for her son!

With reference to honesty, discipline, compassion, punctuality, fairness, tolerance and other values, which of these examples fits you best as a parent/elder?

(This is a re-post, with changes, of my post dated July 13, 2013.)


9 thoughts on “Parenting by example

  1. True mate.. It is as if the values of honesty and integrity have taken a toss for the ease at which things can be done with the help of money. I wonder if this is how the shift to a materialistic world happens!

  2. Children observe and learn a lot from their parents. The values/principles they follow leave impressions on childs mind. The success in this mission lies in being the best role models for the children to follow. It is important to practise what you preach

  3. Parenting is a tricky path. I’m not sure if one can be sure of what to teach and how to teach. Also, just by looking at the child, you cannot definitely say that it was what his/her parents taught her. e.g. In the first example, it is very much possible that the neighbour had mentioned bribing to his children in a very different, opposite context but the child picked it that way. Like mentioning his opponent who had bribed someone and got away with the order/tender, while he could not. There are so many times when my son gets back to me with my very own dialogues, picked out of context, and used against me, in another situation.
    But having said all that, it is also true, that as parents, we have a huge responsibility of guiding our children, and hence the future of the country, in the right path. And the only way of doing that right is by setting a good example.

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  5. My parents did a mix of both talking to me and being an example, and their examples were a much more powerful teaching tool than what they told me. Children see through hypocrisy so easily. They understand a lot more of the world than we give them credit for. It’s a scary thought 😉 The good part is, that I learned both from my parents mistakes and their virtues. I decided what I DIDN’T want to become, as well as what I liked about what they did.

  6. I recently wrote a post on how to raise healthy kids and one of the important points was on being good role models for our children. The first situation is out of question for me. I’d rather my son failed and learned his lesson. Second example has happened many times with us. I also remember a time when my mother did something similar.

  7. Children or adults, we all learn best by example, by the subtle influence of those whom we hold in regard, our elders or teachers. But certainly for a child in an impressionable age a parent’s behaviour is always the first and most influential teacher than any book. Good post, as always!

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