It’s not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.

Posted by Samantha on April 4, 2011 in Thought for the day |

It’s not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.

Eleanor Roosevelt, US diplomat & reformer (1884 – 1962)

Expecting our children to do what we cannot do ourselves seems to be at the heart of a lot of parents’ problems with their children today. 

We want our children to use reasonable words in a reasonable way when they are angry.  We slam doors and shout.

We want our children to come to us when they are sad or have a problem.  We hide our sadness from them and never talk to them about our problems.

We want our children to have less screen time.  We’ve a hundred friends to keep up with on Facebook, spend hours surfing or watching tv every night, check email before going to work and are inseparable from our iPhone.

We want our children to eat less fat and sugar and be more active.  We’ve long since lost our own weight battle.

We want our children to be tidy and organised and clean up after themselves.  We regularly misplace our phone, our bedroom is a bombsite and the ironing is never done!

As parents we want to guide our children in healthy directions even if our own lives are not the best example of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Where does this leave us? 

I recently read that we need to understand that parenting is about PARENTS, not kids.  I love that! 

I know deep down that the only way to change what my children do, is to change what I do.

This is why a lot of parents fall by the wayside after taking their child to a psychiatrist or psychologist: they begin to see that the “problem” is not the child, but the interaction between parent and child.  You simply cannot change one without changing the other. 

Apart from the fact that children will ultimately copy what you do, there are at least two other very good reasons why helping your children to change should ALWAYS begin with changing yourself:

1)      You are the only person you actually have any control over.

2)   You are the adult


I tend to avoid using the phrase “It’s not fair” at home, so I probably wouldn’t say it’s not fair to ask someone to do something that you are not willing to do yourself. 

But I certainly know that as long as you are asking your children to do what you are unwilling – or unable – to do yourself, their success will be limited.


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