What Are You Modeling?

This morning I heard an interview on the car radio about modeling. Not the catwalk, skinny almost to the point of anorexia, type modeling but the model parents set for children.

The subject under discussion was the use or misuse of alcohol and how children pick up on what they see modeled in the home. At the moment the Australian government is running a series of ads about the effects on children of what they see modeled in the home. If Dad or Mom have always got a beer in their hands, the children tend to follow suit.

In Australia the legal age for alcohol is 18. Sadly, some young people are drinking at 12 or even earlier. One of the biggest problems is binge dinking by young people. Worse still, are the parents who will confess privately they buy alcohol for their underage teenagers.

In our home our children never touched alcohol before they were 18 and even afterwards it was only an occasional drink. We modeled moderation and were clear alcohol was not to be overindulged in. Better not to drink at all if that could not be adhered to.

Similarly children watch what goes on in the home in relation to marriage. They watch how Dad treats their mother and vice versa. In a family I knew, he would come home from work put his feet under the table. The only time he moved from there was to get up and move over in front of the TV and then later to bed, while his wife who had been working hard all day on a farm, as well as doing the normal housework and getting the meal, then proceeded to wash and wipe up on her own.

Needless to say the boy in the family followed his father’s example. Even when I was a stay-at-home Mom, Mick and I did the dishes together or as a family. Our children learned that’s what families do – they share tasks together. It also became a time to talk over the events of the day.

Another young woman Mick worked with saw no problems with her husband going away regularly for weekends with the boys while she stayed home and looked after the kids. He never stayed home, so she could have a weekend away. Neither did they go away for weekends together as a couple or a family. She saw no problems with that. Again maybe it was what she’d seen modeled.

But the one that got Mick and I, was the girl whose boyfriend used to come over and drink himself blotto with her dad, while she amused herself. With that sort of pattern before marriage I didn’t hold out much hope for what would happen after marriage.

I’m glad our marriage has always been a partnership built on love and respect, where each of us looks out for the other person’s happiness and best interests. Hopefully that is the model our son and daughter have taken into their marriages.

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