The most important thing you can do for your children is lead by example. On our About page you’ll find my favorite James Baldwin quote. It reads, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” For this reason, we need to be careful not to teach our kids — harmful habits, pointless practices, or things that don’t make any sense. For instance, that thing you thought everyone did – but found out it was just you. You likely picked up that habit from a parent who led by example. In this post, you’ll discover how to actively lead by example with intent and purpose.
TRADITION WITHOUT CONTEXT
At a Kwanzaa Crawl celebration father, musician, and tastemaker – Kel Spencer told a story about pot roast that stuck with me. Whenever his girlfriend made pot roast she cut off the ends before she cooked it. Kel noticed and asked why. Since this made very little sense like a dollar when you purchase something for 99 cents. She explained, that it was what she seen her mother do growing up. Obviously, Kel asked his girlfriend’s mom, who said it was how her mother made pot roast.
During Christmas dinner, with 3 generations of his girlfriend’s family under one roof, Kel asked his girlfriend’s grandmother why she cut off the ends of the pot roast. It was one of those things that were living in his brain rent-free. Abuelita, with a few coquitos under her belt, said with brazen flare, “Sheesh! My pan was too small to fit the whole roast.” This pointless practice lasting 3 generations of women should show you just how strong leading by example can be. In this case, one action did just to fit in became a family tradition.
How To Lead By Example With Intent
It’s important to stay engaged with your children. A University Of Missouri study shows that children “with engaged parents ended the year with better social skills and were able to focus on tasks easier.” I suggest you:
- Encourage their inquisitiveness
- Explain to them why you take certain actions.
- Allow them to see you take those actions in your own life.
- Let your actions speak for themself.
- Set a standard for how you behave at all times
If you want to lead by example you need to embody all the traits you want your children to have. You want to raise a kind kid, you need to be kind to others. Not just sometimes either, you have to be kind all the time. Especially when the other person is wrong. That’s when it is most important. With this in mind, it requires the ability to always think of your kid before you act. Since I want to lead by example for my son, I’m upgrading myself. Let me tell you a story
Got It From My Mama
I used to work at a hospital in Atlanta. My job was to answer phone calls from nurses and direct medical teams to the proper location. Sometimes the calls were of life or death importance and one mistake might cost a patient their life. I was one of the best at getting the notification to the necessary team in under 10 seconds. So, one day we decided to celebrate with a potluck. Later that night, I called my mother to find out how to make her seafood salad. It’s a simple dish that was almost impossible to mess up but it packs a flavor explosion in your mouth. As expected mom’s seafood salad was a hit. Everyone asked me for the recipe so I happily obliged. Telling them exactly what my mom told me.
First, you boil the tricolor pasta in salted water. While the pasta cooks chop up 1 green pepper, 1 orange pepper, 1 red onion, cherry tomatoes, and olives. Then break up two packs of imitation crab meat — dump everything in a bowl with your cooked pasta. Add half a bottle of caesar dressing and half zesty Italian dressing then STURRY it all together and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.
I was expecting a huge ovation but I got clowned for saying “STURRY” instead of stir. Up until that moment, I believed STURRY was an action a human could do. How do you make Kool-Aid? You STURRY the sugar and Kool-Aid mix into cold water. My mother used the word so I added it to my vocabulary. I quickly removed it after being the butt of the jokes at the hospital, however. I also made it my mission to enhance my lexicon by actively adding words to my vocabulary.
Let It Upgrade You
Looking into my son’s eyes – I get an overwhelming desire to be a better version of myself. Being an example of a great man is an honor for me. The words I use around him matter. For instance, I speak power over his life by telling him to navigate the world with the souls of his ancestors protecting and guiding his every step. Also, I inform him that he is a child of God who is called and anointed to do great things in the universe, a world changer, a prince, and the heir to my throne. We will pray together, read together, and learn – together. When he is not around I will behave with intent so people will tell good stories about Xilla Valentine. Unfortunately, that won’t erase the bad stories about me, but I’ll answer them head-on and explain my mistake to my children. All in an effort that they won’t make similar mistakes. Even if they do hopefully they will learn from how I handled things in my life. Because I led by example.