Learning By Example

Learning By Example
All of us have heard the adage, ¡§Children learn by example.¡¨ It is, indeed, the best method of learning. Yet how often do we set the example that we do not want our children to follow?

There are many times that I have told my own daughters, ¡§Do not settle for someone who is not what you want in a friend/boyfriend/etc.¡¨ I am sure that all of you who have children who are at the dating age ¡V whether they be actually dating or just ¡§dating¡¨ the boy/girl that walks them down the hall at school ¡V have told your children the same at one time or another. But do we follow our own advice?

Single parents exist for many reasons ¡V death of a spouse, divorce, an unplanned pregnancy, or in some cases, single parent adoptions. Perhaps some of you have taken in children when another family member has died or came upon circumstances that would not allow them to care for the children themselves. Whatever the reason you came to this place in life, the fact remains that your life has changed in ways you had not previously imagined. This pressure can take its toll.

Being a single parent myself, I know that mantras that sometimes run through your head. ¡§Who is going to want to date a woman/man with children?¡¨ ¡§How do I possibly have time for my children and a relationship?¡¨ ¡§I am too tired, too stressed, too over-worked, too financially burdened, too old, too out-of-shape (take your pick) for anyone decent to notice me.¡¨ This type of thinking is becomes our stumbling block for falling into the same ¡§trap¡¨ that we are trying to encourage our children to avoid.

When we buy into the falsehoods like those above that run through our heads at random, we lower our expectations for not only ourselves, but also for others. At this point, the flaws that we would never have considered in years gone by do not seem quite so glaring to someone as ¡§deficient¡¨ as we have convinced ourselves that we are. We are at the point of settling; and if we can get into such a position, then how can we expect our innocent, just-learning-the-ropes teens to do any better.

All of us ¡V men and women ¡V have a tendency to fall into the traps that we set for ourselves. Life is not easy and we all succumb to the pressures sooner or later. Weak moments are nothing for which we should be ashamed. We all have them. However, we must teach ourselves to do exactly what we wish for our children. Regardless of the moment or the weakness, we must hold on to our own self-worth and refuse to ¡§settle¡¨ for less.

When that guy in the grocery store with the case of beer in one hand, TV dinner in the other, and shirt streaked with dirt smiles at you regardless of the kid crying in the buggy and the one pulling on your skirt reminding you that you are late for soccer practice, do NOT believe that you have found a ¡§real catch¡¨. If what you have been searching for is non-drinker who has pride in himself and believes in living healthy, I don¡¦t care how pretty the smile, he isn¡¦t your guy.

When the gorgeous blonde at the gas station who can¡¦t quite figure out how to work the gas pump, but has a great pair of legs underneath that miniskirt tells you how strong you are when you explain to her what she is doing wrong, don¡¦t be flattered. If you are looking for a woman who is self-reliant and capable and knows how to stand on her own two feet, then it won¡¦t matter if her legs are insured for a million dollars, you will not be happy. [Note: Self-confidence is incredibly sexy all on its own.]

When your children are old enough to begin making their own dating choices, they are also old enough to know their parents¡¦ ideals. When they see you settling for someone that is less that that for which you are searching, they will not take you seriously when you warn them of the same. They will learn by what you do, not what you say.

Single parenting isn¡¦t easy, but it definitely has its rewards. So the next time you find yourself considering settling for someone less that what you were looking for in life, remind yourself that, as a single parent, you have already proven that you are:

„Y Strong
„Y Reliable
„Y Dependable
„Y Resilient
„Y Capable
„Y Determined
„Y Extraordinary
„Y Worthy
„Y Deserving of good
„Y And many, many more¡K

And remember, just like you would tell your own children, do NOT let anyone else tell you any different. Make a promise to yourself that you will set the example for your children that you want them follow.

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