Recently I failed to meet a deadline and I was mortified and frustrated. I pride myself in staying organized, getting things done and keeping my word. This time it appears that I took a vacation from my job and it looks like my mind vacated also. However there I was mentally searching for plausible excuses and rationalizations as part of my explanation when I realized I hadn’t met my deadline. I stopped and asked myself, what would I expect of my child in a similar situation?
Since I became a mom there’ve been many times I’ve had to step up my game because I’m committed to raising my child with the best value system possible. This value system is not about points you get from making purchases on a credit card, or miles when you travel or bonus points when you score in a game. It consists of the elements which add up to a good human character like honesty, sincerity, trustworthiness, fairness, and decency. Integrity encompasses all those elements and it’s becoming extinct since just like the dinosaur, we don’t hear of it nor see it much anymore. But I figure that I chose to be a mother and part of that responsibility was to do my best in raising someone who would add value (pun intended) to the world.
Ah, responsibility… Now that’s a huge portion of integrity! The world seems rife with examples that show so much of the contrary. Governments who wage war under the banner of freedom but buy and sell equality on the global stock exchange. Businesses which insist that you provide them with all your demographic information but rarely step up to assist when your online data is mysteriously compromised. Organizations which promote policies of fair practices but trample the parameters of labor laws at the expense of families. Coworkers with complaints who throw others under the bus instead of standing behind their own workplace issues. Neighbors who get a dog for their enjoyment or security but are deaf to others’ expectations of quiet rest, safety from injury and clean unpolluted walkways. Friends with every good intention who say “I’ll pay you back” in the time of their need or friends who nurture your hope for connectedness by emptily saying “Let’s have dinner sometime.” Parents who get that label through geneology but walk away with illusions intact that they have exhausted all the reasons to stay in the lives of their children. Kids who make a mess of their spaces, grades or friendships and expect to be bailed out by loving parents.
So what’s a parent to do? I guess we have to activate that first rule of parenting: take responsibility. What does that look like? This means highlighting the “I” in every action, word, decision, and choice in my life. It means accepting that I will screw up and I can acknowledge that I did, knowing that this is the first step in my learning to do better. It also means that in doing so I empower myself in making life better for me versus giving away my power to things outside of me or others by blaming them. More importantly, if I own up to my mistakes and work to fix them, what’s my value system going to look like when my child comes looking for a reflection of him/herself in the mirror of my eyes?