My twins have seen me cry and they've watched as I've peed in public bathrooms. There are few boundaries between me and my kids, but there are just some things that I will not let them see me do. One of the biggest pressures of parenting is that we are constantly modeling the behaviors that our kids will likely pick up on. For example, I don't smoke. But if I did, how could I do it in front of my little ones and not expect them to get the impression that it's OK?
Here are the things that I won't do in front of my kids because I want to be a shining example for them. (Note that I will do a lot of these when they're not watching!)
1. Looking at phone while driving
This is a tough one for me. I am constantly checking Waze for directions or listening to music on Spotify and the pull to respond to an indicator letting me know I have a new text or email is strong. At first, I would only look at my phone while at a complete stop at a red light. But think about it—one day, our little ones will be teenagers behind the wheel. Will we want them thinking it's OK to sneak a peek at the phone?
2. Scrolling social media
Like a lot of parents, I love the escape of checking out what others are up to on Instagram. In many ways, it's positive. I love to see the foods and places other people are traveling to or spy on Will Kemp, that cute guy from the show "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce," while he's vacationing. (C'mon, can you blame a girl for being curious?) But because I worry that my kids will become mindless internet scrolling zombies, I try to save these scrolling sessions for after they are asleep.
3. Stealing stuff
So, there's no way I would ever shoplift from the grocery store or the mall, but when it comes to areas that can be a little vaguer—downloading online content that isn't free, sneaking into another movie when you've paid for just one—I'm still not going to go there in front of my children. Even if I might have considered doing this stuff BK (before kids), just knowing that their little eyes are watching would make me burn with guilt and shame. So I don't do it!
Because I worry that my kids will become mindless internet scrolling zombies, I try to save these scrolling sessions for after they are asleep.
4. Screaming at other drivers
I'm not prone to road rage, but the one time I full-on yelled at another driver in a parking lot ("Is this spot more important than my kids' lives?" is what I think I screamed), it really scared my kids! So, while it's not always easy to be constantly calm like Fonzie, after that incident I vowed to remain cool, even if someone cuts me off!
5. Treating those working in the service industry rudely
This is one that I would not do even if my kids weren't watching, but is one that I feel is critical for kids to understand. The people who bring you food in a restaurant or ring up your purchases in a store deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. That means you will never see me talk down to someone that's helping me or carry on a phone conversation while someone checks me out.
I hope that few parents would consider tossing a bag of fast-food wrappers out of a moving car window, but as parents I think it's also critical to be on top of the smaller things, like a dropped tissue or finished popsicle stick. Kids will often take the path of least resistance, so if you don't bother chasing after that wad of napkins that blew away, why would they?
7. Getting down on my appearance
I'm the first to admit that I care about how I look. I spend time on exercise and care about what I'm wearing. But I am also conscious of the fact that focusing on your looks can either be a positive thing or something that kids can negatively internalize. That's why I won't let my kids see me getting upset or obsessive about this stuff. Instead, they see a mom who is confident and not complaining (even on those bloated or bad hair days).
8. Overspending on unnecessary items
This one is tricky because I love the convenience of online shopping (hell, I also just love shopping, in general). But when I saw my son getting overly excited about the arrival of Amazon packages, I knew that I didn't want to ingrain the idea that there's always something new coming in the mail. I try to keep purchases to the necessary stuff so that I don't raise materialistic, click-happy kids.
9. Lazing around
I want my kids to have healthy, fit bodies and a healthy attitude about exercise. So, they will rarely see me skipping a workout in favor of lying around. Sunday morning snuggle parties in my bed are the exception. And they won't catch me taking the elevator instead of the stairs. Even if they whine, they are climbing up with me!
10. Telling white lies
As an adult, telling a white lie is sometimes just part of being a part of polite society. We sometimes tell them to avoid hurting another person's feelings. But I try hard not to let my kids see me do this. At their young age, a lie is a lie—and I want to send the message that it's not OK.
What are the things you won't let your kids see you do?