I picked my daughter up from her day of Freshman Orientation last week. She was bubbling as she hopped in the car, telling me about the events of the day. “Can we go get ice cream to celebrate?”
That would be my fault. Ice cream is my go-to celebratory treat. And, as made apparent by my daughter, I’ve passed that tradition down to my kids. Not that I expected Annie to get in the car and say, “Hey Mom, school was great! Let’s go run 3 miles to celebrate.” But her request did make me think about what kind of examples I set.
I drink Diet Coke first thing in the morning, so it doesn’t surprise me that I’ve had to scold my kids about drinking the same before they’ve even eaten breakfast. My husband has a habit of grabbing a snack at the gas station near our house. Not so coincidentally, our 8-year-old declares “I’m hungry” almost every time he gets in the car.
Sleeping on the couch with the TV on is a special comfort of mine. I seriously have a crazy-comfortable couch! But when my 12-year-old starting sacking out there night after night this summer, I had to put the kibosh on that, telling him that he would get better sleep in the more restful space of his bedroom.
It’s not just negative examples that our children mimic. My husband is not a big fruit eater, but if I serve fruit at dinner, he always takes at least a little bit, not because he likes it, but because he wants to set a good example. When I make a regular effort to exercise — even if it’s just walking the dog — the kids often ask about joining in.
As a mother, I have a responsibility to prepare my children for their futures. If I want those to be healthy and long futures, then I have a duty to model healthy practices for them in the present.