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The Importance of Parents as Role Models

by
author image Sophie Bloom, M.S., L.Ac.
Sophie Bloom has been a professional writer since 2000, writing for nonprofits including the American Foundation for the Blind and The Adult Literacy Media Alliance. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in culture and media studies from Johns Hopkins University and her Master of Science in acupuncture from Tri-State College of Acupuncture in New York City.
The Importance of Parents as Role Models
A mother listens to her daughter tell a story on a bench at the zoo. Photo Credit unclegene/iStock/Getty Images

Parents serve as role models not only through direct interactions with their children, but through the examples they set with their attitude and behavior within the family and in the outside world. By addressing their concerns, sharing their lives, and maintaining a constructive perspective, parents can contibute to their children's personal growth and development .

Definition

Role models are often subjects of admiration and emulation. Through their personal qualities and achievements, they can inspire others to strive and develop without direct instruction. Due to their regular presence and interaction with their children, parents can serve as consistent and evolving role models for their children. The child development experts at the PBS Parents website note that parents can be role models for learning by integrating what school-age children have already learned into daily life.

Considerations

Families are becoming increasingly diverse, states the New York University Child Care Center, as children may be part of same-sex, interracial and multi-generational families. The pediatric pros at the Kidshealth website note that diversity is also the reality of both school and the workplace. Parents who show a willingness to interact with others, and who focus on the richness of life that results from diversity, can help their children learn to appreciate and respect cultural differences.

Benefits

As children develop, they need guidance on an increasingly complex array of issues. Parents can share more of the choices and decision-making inherent in their own lives to offer as examples. By displaying moral and ethical behavior, parents can also impart values which can counter the negative influences children may receive from their peers or media. The responsibility of being a role model can also encourage parents to better themselves. For instance, parents who try to resolve their job dissatisfaction may find they serve as a constructive example of change.

Significance

Role models are human; they make mistakes. Parents who admit to their mistakes, learn from them, and strive to better themselves can serve as powerful influences for children's emotional growth. By addressing problems and conflicts in their own lives (such as trying to lose weight or handle a demanding supervisor at work) and sharing the process in an age-appropriate manner, parents can encourage their children to address their own concerns. Parents should also display non-aggressive responses to stress and anger management. The experts at the KidsHealth website warn that children who display aggressive behavior often learn to do so from a role model at home.

Strategies

Communicate with your children and stay active in their lives. Take the time to listen and share their concerns, so they feel both loved and respected. Practice respect and tolerance, to provide clear standards of acceptable behavior. Develop fun and engaging family activities, which share and develop the interests of both you and your children.

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