A menagerie of Barbies that weren’t mine towered behind me as I stood awkwardly in my Girl Scout uniform. For some unknown reason, one of my Brownie badges depended on an exhibition of a treasured collection. It could have been anything, but I was five or six and had yet to collect anything–except an irrational fear of dolls. So, my mom let me borrow hers. While ironic, my Barbie show horror embodies the idea that we can be well-intentioned in helping our children but miss the mark somehow. But that’s ok! You’re already the perfect role model for your baby, and here’s how.
Some may tilt their head at me in disbelief. “I’m the perfect role model?” Ok, so this is a bit clickbaity, I’ll admit, as many would argue perfection is unobtainable, but I don’t believe that to be the case in this context. As seen with my mother swooping in to save my Girl Scout exhibit, I may not have liked those dolls, but my mom got me that badge. Do I remember what badge I got? No. Do I remember where the display was held? No.
The point is my mom got it done. And that’s the hallmark of motherhood–getting stuff done.
It never ceases to amaze me how motherhood changes us–our priorities take a quick U-turn on a high-speed interstate, and yet we’re not remotely concerned about what may happen if we change course. We just do it.
You’re the parent and perfect role model your child needs.
The definition of perfect is having all the desired or required qualities. Being the perfect role model doesn’t sound so unreasonable now, does it, naysayers?
So what are those qualities? Of course, they vary from person to person, but I see the following traits as essentials in being the perfect role model.
Qualities of the Perfect Role Model
Accepts Their Imperfections
An audible gasp echoes throughout the theater as the women fan themselves with powder-white gloves and the handle-bar-mustached men ferociously clean their bifocals with their kerchiefs.
Yes, this may seem contradictory, but the perfect role model needs to accept their limitations, barriers, and flaws. I’m defining the ideal role model– not a perfect human being.
In accepting your shortcomings, you’re a million steps closer to self-awareness than many. Self-awareness is critical in embodying the perfect role model. Everyone knows how people without self-awareness act. Typically, it’s a watered-down, less-funny version of Michael Scott from The Office. And let’s face it, while he’s hilarious; he is not someone I want to emulate.
Good thing they’re making diaper bags bigger these days, so you can make room for your crystal ball to thwart impending doom! Ok, while you may not be prophetic in the sense of literally seeing the future, you have experience in environments that are big and scary to little ones. For example, when you cross the street, you look both ways and know not to shove your finger into a power outlet.
You understand cause and effect in ways your child does not. As the years go on, this may become a bone of contention when they swear they know more than you. And in some ways, they will, but that’s part of the joy of being the perfect role model and raising good humans. Raising them so well, they go on to do and know better.
I discuss perspective a lot, mainly because it eases pain. I’d even argue it acts as a magical elixir for tackling life’s challenges and reducing stress. To learn more about perspective and it’s role in giving yourself grace, read 5 Steps to Giving Yourself Grace.
The perfect role model can achieve clarity of the mind in the face of life’s conundrums, even on the minimal sleep you get courtesy of your toddler. We moms continuously gain perspective on life’s chaos, even with enough bags under our eyes to carry a month’s worth of groceries. Too bad they can’t replace the reusable grocery bags I forget every time I go food shopping.
Has a Sense of Humor
There is an infamous video of my daughter projectile vomiting on me when she was about three months old. My husband happened to be recording, and I remember looking up defeatedly and only being able to laugh. Being a mom is stressful sometimes, but our children also look to us for emotional regulation and how to respond to things. As the saying goes, there is no use crying over spilled vomit…no wait. I always get that wrong.
The perfect role model is someone who can roll with the punches and laugh at themselves. I wouldn’t have made it this far in life without laughing at myself A LOT! I certainly wouldn’t have made it this far into motherhood, either. For some motherhood humor, check out my post 7 Funny New Years Resolutions I Won’t Do.
Humor also has a crucial role in resilience. Speaking of resilience…
Oh, resilience. The motivating X-factor pushes us to get back up after falling or take chances despite bad past experiences. It’s also another critical component of being the perfect role model.
It can counteract adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and helps us cope with life’s stress. While some may be more genetically predisposed to being resilient, practice can improve it. Like working a muscle! If only resilience were a physical muscle that enabled me to lift heavier items around my house.
Hopelessness makes people feel trapped and can feed into feelings of worthlessness. Living a hopeful life and passing it on to your baby helps buffer the effects of the hope-deprived world in which we exist. Not to say your child will be ignorant or unrealistic, just that they can choose to see the upside of things despite life’s setbacks.
Hope is addressed many times in my other posts. Read 6 Ways of Inspiring Hope in Your Life for more information on the topic.
Holds Themselves Accountable
Taking responsibility when you’ve done something wrong is critical, as it requires a level of self-awareness and humility in which you understand and support a sense of justice–that you hold yourself to the same standards you set for others.
It teaches your child that they should hold themselves to similar standards, which will absolve the world of one more person who thinks the rules don’t apply to them. The perfect role model has a guiding set of ethics that applies to themselves to the same extent it does to everyone else.
Those are the qualities of the perfect role model. And in case you missed it, they’re things that come with motherhood.
Society likes to convince us perfection is a lofty idea, but it just means something best suited for a particular situation. So, the perfect role model for your baby is you!
What are some examples of how you try to be the best role model you can be? Are there any qualities of the perfect role model you’d like to add?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below!