Discover more from Kristine’s L23 Substack
Leading by example isn't enough
You aren't leading if you don't have any followers.
As parents, we often think of ourselves as leading by example when we make the right choices, and hope in the long-run those choices will rub off, but what if we set the bar higher? What if we take on the harder task of making sure our kids are following our positive lead, as well, so that in the long-run they have two decades of ingrained positive habits before setting off on their own?
Here’s a starting list of where leading by example, and working to make sure your child is following, will set your child, and your entire family, up for long-term success:
Lifelong Learning. I don’t worry about lifelong learners for a reason, so if you and your child can always point to something new you are learning, individually or together, you’re on the right path. Just make sure you are both learning and doing, because knowledge in action is the ideal.
Healthy Play. Healthy play nourishes our bodies and minds, and includes physical play like hiking, biking, running, camping, sports, and the like, as well as intellectual pastimes, such as playing board games, sudoku, or crosswords, which challenge our minds, and in the case of group games, naturally reinforce positive social and emotional growth.
Personal Health. Far too often, this devolves to teaching our children to brush, floss, and eat their vegetables, but there is so much more to understanding and taking care of our bodies, so dive into nutrition, physiology, mental health, epidemiology, and more together with your child.
Personal Responsibility. Don’t forget the skills your child will need in the future, such as cooking, meal planning, budgeting, scheduling, doing laundry, cleaning, yard work, and even animal husbandry, if they have or want a pet someday. They aren’t chores, they are life skills, which is a critical distinction to make to your child.
Audacity. Set and achieve audacious goals, individually or together, including all the project management, dedication, resilience, and other skills baked into doing hard things.
An added benefit is that doing all of these things will naturally supplant screen time, couch sitting, and all the things we are trying to combat!
Build Your Following
For those that are struggling in one or more of the above areas, welcome to the club. The great thing is that you aren’t in this alone. Your family is both your reason for doing this, and the answer.
More precisely, your family culture is the answer, and building family culture can and should be fun.
In fact, start right now. What is your family doing right now. Think about their day. Think about your day. Now, stop thinking alone.
Family Meetings. If you don’t already have one, schedule a family meeting. Don’t overthink the requirement, but do it. It doesn’t always have to be on the same day / time, and it doesn’t need to be a three-hour event. Just make sure it happens at least weekly, if at all possible.
Family Tracking. A great topic for your family meetings is how everyone is doing on the above healthy habits. Talk about challenges you are each experiencing, and brainstorm together. Don’t forget to create a tracker for your family habits, so you can see your collective progress over time!
Family Culture. Build a culture that reinforces the strength of your family unit. Traditions are a great glue, and they don’t need to be reserved for major holidays! Maybe you take a family walk after dinner each night (healthy play), or maybe your schedule is way too crazy for that, so you have family games you play in the car while you are dashing from commitment to commitment (also healthy play). Maybe you have a special way of saying goodbye to each other whenever you part (personal health) . . . you get the idea.
If your reaction to these is that there is zero chance your family is going to buy into this, be willing to go it alone, or with only the willing, to start. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough, so if your spouse isn’t cooperating, do it with just your children. If you have a teen that prides themself on resisting anything you suggest, work with your younger children and your spouse. Just start, build, and take comfort in the adage that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
After all, everything you accomplish is better than where you were before you began.
Sure, me writing and you reading technically count as a form of communication, but it’s more fun to interact. Let me know what you are thinking, and until next time, keep moving forward.