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I Don't Want To Be a Role Model

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Beth Falkenstein: A frequent comment on some of my postings has been "What kind of role model are you?" As far as I'm concerned, there is only one mother that I might consider a worthy role model for my children: Mother Teresa. And even then, I would suggest they question her fashion sense.

woman wondering
In other words, I don't want to be my kids' role model.

That's not to say I don't try to be the best person I can be. I believe people would agree that I'm considerate, hard-working, and like to challenge myself for personal growth. Granted, sometimes that amounts to not swearing at the driver who cut me off while I was driving ten miles out of my way to purchase that book on Buddhism I've been reading (for the past seven months).

But I'm human, which brings with it a whole host of less-than-divine behavior. It's how I deal with these human foibles that is more telling. For example, yes, I have an occasional drink just because it helps me relax. But couldn't you also say that the fact that it's not five drinks shows self-discipline?

And let's be honest. All those classic role models through history most certainly fell short of perfection in the eyes of their immediate circles. Maybe Audrey Hepburn, in addition to being a world-class humanitarian, had the unseemly habit of snooping in other people's medicine cabinets. But unless you had personally invited her into your house, you wouldn't know, would you? Or perhaps Eleanor Roosevelt was so busy with her work with the UN that she neglected her personal hygiene. Hey, did any of you ever actually smell her?

I try to be the best person I can be. But I do it for me ... not for my kids. If I did it for my kids, it would be hollow, and I'd be wracked with guilt every time I failed. There are some aspects of my character my kids may choose to emulate, and there are others that may send them screaming (sound familiar, all you daughters out there?).

So, in answer to that rhetorical "What kind of role model are you?" -- I'm the kind that doesn't want my kids to be just like me. In truth, I hope they turn out better than I did.

next: Stop Your Kid's Dirty Habit
3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Diana B. July 13, 2009, 10:28 AM

When my mother got mad at me when I was a kid, she would say, “I hope someday you have a kid just like you.”

My response: “Thank you, that’s the one of the nicest things I’ve ever heard.”

Abbey July 13, 2009, 12:13 PM

Actually, if you read a bit into what Mother Theresa actually did to the impoverished people (i.e. accept bribes from drug lords), you would NOT want her to be a role model for anyone. Just saying …

Nancy July 14, 2009, 10:03 AM

Please do a little homework and find out who Eleanor Roosevelt really was and what she was really like before making comments about her hygiene. It is embarrasing only to those who make statements out of ignorance. There is a grand role model in Mrs. Roosevelt’s life and work — and yes, in her hygiene as well — for those with the intelligence and sensitivity to understand her example.

Nancy S

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