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Leading By Example: (Part 2) Family Values

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This is the second article in a three part series exploring the ways we are all leaders, even if our work responsibilities don’t include directly managing others. This month we will look at one of the more obvious ways we end up leading by example through the values and behaviors we show to other members of our family. Whether you are a parent, an adult helping to care for your elderly parents or just a member of a family, you are actively playing a leadership role. If you need to catch up on this series you can use the links below…

As a mother of two young girls, I am becoming very aware of the influence I have on them. Especially since my oldest daughter, who is 3 ½ has gotten in the habit of pretending to be “Mom.” You just can’t know how silly you sound until you hear a 3 year old regurgitate your words to their younger sibling. Although it doesn’t always seem so, kids do pay close attention to their parent’s behavior, and they use what they learn to determine how to act themselves.

One positive way I have been able to influence my children is through my eating habits. People often ask me how I do it, after seeing how much both of my daughters enjoy eating vegetables and other healthy foods. The answer is actually really simple…I enjoy eating healthy and I take my food choices seriously. The key to success is commitment and making sure you don’t send mixed signals. Kids are smart and, if you pretend to relish your vegetables at dinner but then gouge on chips and snack foods when you think they aren’t paying attention, the only one you’re fooling is yourself. Because I choose to eat healthy just about all the time, my kids end up reaching for the same types of foods when they’re hungry. As they get older, they may detour from their healthy eating habit from time to time, but over the long run it’s likely their trend will continue.

If I could choose, I would only influence my family in a positive way. Unfortunately though, it’s the negative behaviors they seen to pick up most of all. Growing a family and a business at the same time comes with a certain amount of stress. One thing that I haven’t always succeeded at is not letting that stress get overwhelming. For my kids and my husband this can create problems.

Here is one scenario that has often played out in our household: I am stressed because I have some time-sensitive work that needs to be completed, plus there is a huge pile of laundry and a bunch of dishes in the sink. My husband, who has just come home from work, wants to relax and watch a little TV. Instead of just asking for his help, I make a snarky comment that gets returned with yet another snarky comment. Before we know it, we are having an argument. All the while, my kids are taking mental notes on how to behave when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. In this example, which has happened a lot more times than I would like to admit, I am not being an effective leader and it results in a lot of wasted time that I could have spent getting something accomplished. I have realized lately that all I really need to do is communicate with my husband so we can come up with a plan on how to make our crazy work situation more manageable. He doesn’t mind helping out, he just needs a break when he first walks through the door. If I communicate my workload and what I expect from him in a civil way, everything gets done and we can avoid arguments.

Many of us take the leadership role in our jobs a lot more seriously than we do at home, but in reality, the examples we show at home can have the greatest effect on our happiness and wellbeing in life. We show others how to treat us by the way we treat others. Since our family members are the people we love and spend the most time with, these relationships are the most essential.

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Milly Welsh
Zebralove Web Solutions

Milly Welsh is the Priority Learning webmaster and Owner/Operator of Zebralove Web Solutions, a web development company located in southern Maine.
Zebralove Web Solutions



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