Being a Role Model as a Dad
Updated: Dec 6, 2019
What is a Role Model?
Let’s begin with a basic understanding of what a role model is. According to some dictionary definitions, a role model is “a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated”. We certainly see this all the time, with children and adults imitating various significant individuals like celebrities, politicians and family members. Unfortunately we may see a lot of poor behaviour being imitated. We don’t often see a lot of the good, positive behaviour being imitated these days, which is possibly a sign of the times. The world we live in has developed a far greater focus outwards and on image rather than on self development and the solid values that were esteemed more by past generations. The materialistic and superficial world we live in plays a role - but is not solely to blame.
What Role do you Model?
Those of you who have heard me speak, or have had a meeting with me before, will know that I push personal responsibility, in all contexts. We all need to take ownership of the things that are within our control as an individual. When we break it all down, there is not a great deal that is truly in our own control, but there are some very critical elements of our life that are.
We choose our own behaviour - that is our choice.
We choose how to respond to situations and people.
Considering this, how we are as a person, how we live our life, is significantly within our control. So take a moment to reflect on the person that we feel we are? How do you feel about how you live your life, engage with people and handle situations?
Me, Us and Them
Through my career as a psychologist, I have worked with many individuals and families across many contexts, within the school context as well as privately. Through these experiences, I have been able to conceptualise two theories that I make use of on a daily basis when I engage with clients.
Firstly, and probably most importantly is a concept that I apply to all situations and cases. This is my theory that all dynamics and relationships (irrespective of context) can be broken down into three components; ME, US and THEM. For now, we will focus on the family context.
THEM - refers to the broader family context which includes your children - this is the last “stage / level”. Generally speaking, if things are going smoothly in the other domains, this area will functions relatively well with little need for intervention.
US - refers to the “parental unit”, the family managers, the core of the family. The relationship between you and your partner, wife, ex-wife etc. This needs to be ideally in a state of balance, equilibrium and stable. If this is not, it will impact the THEM. This includes parenting styles, values, interests etc.
ME - The “parental care” is comprised of individuals, and so we get to the first and fundamentally most critical component, you. You have a past, a history and baggage. Strengths and weaknesses, insecurities, we all do, we are only human. This being said, we need to acknowledge this and grow and develop who we are at our very core.
Why is this so fundamental to being a dad? Well, being a dad means being a role model 24/7, meaning that you as a person are being watched, imitated and criticised on your behaviour by your children every day. To be a solid role model, you need to be a solid individual. This leads me to my second theory…
One Way Glass Parenting