An earlier time

An earlier time
My autographed "Bobby Seale" copy

Monday, August 29, 2005

Bad Examples Aren't Always Bad

Until recently I struggled with setting a good example for my children and was distraught at the times when genetics and my own human tendencies caused me to give them a bad example. I felt to teach them the right way I had to be the perfect example of that right way. The truth of the matter is that people are all very different and possess also different morals with which to deal with the world they encounter. I can never hope, no matter what my beliefs, to deal with situations in the same manner as Gandhi would. This would only be possible if all the factors in human existence were the same. Environmental, social, physiological, and psychological differences all cause reactions to stimuli to be handled differently as well. No human handles every situation perfectly and I am no exception. Making mistakes is a very human thing that happens and children need to be aware that they too will make them even as adults. That is not to say that I intentionally make mistakes for that purpose, only that I have come to terms with the fact that I have and will make them. In this manner sometimes a bad example becomes a good example.
My father was a case in point. He is considered to this day be a recovering alcoholic. At the height of his disease he exhibited a host of undesirable reactions to the world around him which adversely effected his family. I won't elaborate on them individually. I saw what was happening to him and through his bad example I became determined not to let the same thing happen to me. From his example I can teach my children from firsthand information which bears more authority than experiences of people unknown to them.
In my case, those times that I have been a bad example have aided in my growth as well, only if I worked at changing it into a positive.
My son Lennon's behavior at school used to get worse once he made that first mistake of the day. He was under the impression that he had disappointed me and I would consider him bad for the day so he continued the misbehavior. It took a great deal of work to convince him that one bad incident (or even a couple!) didn't ruin the entire day. I had to show him that he must start over after the bad incident and work at making the remainder good. Since bad can't always be avoided many things must be figured on a percentage basis. If the bigger percentage is good then he shouldn't consider the whole to be bad. Bless his heart! That is one way that ADHD children slip into feelings of low self-esteem. Many of them have parents who lack the understanding to show the ADHD child that his natural tendencies and his occasional giving into his impulses do not make him a bad person. Likewise I had to first convince myself that I was not a bad person because I set a bad example, only my failure to acknowledge it and correct it would label me as such. Love to all...Jeff