Edit ModuleShow Tags

Parental Indiscretion

Model Behavior


Illustration by Kristina Micotti

Rachel Laing​

I consider right now the Goldilocks Period of my parenting adventure. While every phase of childhood has its joys for parents, this preteen phase has been as close to “just right” as I can imagine getting. 

At 10 and 12, the kids are old enough to have a real conversation, make simple meals, and do laundry, but they still have enough of that essential childhood innocence to do these things without rolling their eyes at me. 

While I’m already occasionally catching glimpses of that insufferable adolescent indolence and insolence, I like to use it as a reminder to enjoy this calm before the storm—and to collect evidence of their fundamental humanity, to help stave off my homicidal feelings in the future.

The biggest challenge right now is that I’ve become incredibly self-conscious about the example I’m setting. I can almost see the kids filing away all the examples of suboptimal behavior, which I fear they’ll later use to justify similar behavior in themselves. Or worse: What if they think of me as an anti-example, like people who obsess about saving money because their parents were careless financially?

I’ve always been aware that modeling good behavior is important. But lately, I’ve noticed my kids understand a lot more about what they’re seeing in my actions. And they. See. Everything.

“I've noticed my kids understand a lot more about what they're seeing in my actions. And they. See. Everything.”

I’ll catch Ben glancing at the speedometer and noting how fast I’m driving (too fast, usually). Or he’ll ask questions about conversations he overhears between adults—which, in my circles, tend to include juicy bits of gossip. And because my voice gets higher and my laugh more boisterous when I pass my two-glass limit, my intemperate moments now register with them. 

Don’t get me wrong: Some of my favorite people in the world are lead-footed, gossipy lushes. But these probably aren’t the ideal behaviors to model as my kids approach the years in which they’ll be learning to drive and negotiating the perils of drugs, alcohol, and mean girls.

I imagined the “your life is no longer your own” thing applied to the ability to sleep in and read a book in peace—things I’m finally able to do again. But being our better selves is now the gig. 

When it starts feeling a bit oppressive, I remind myself I’m not trying to set a good example so that I can have the moral authority to admonish and scold my kids; it’s about modeling what I want for them—being the change I want to see in the world, as Gandhi would say.

So instead of seeing my kids’ hot judgment as a little jail cell, I’m turning around the way I think about it. Besides, as any wise woman knows, you’ll never regret withholding unkind words or refusing a third glass of wine.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

On the Job: Meet the Crossing Guard

Moray “Mr. Mo” Black pulls out all the stops to keep kids safe and brighten their day

Celebrating Women: Meet San Diego State University's First Female President

Adela de la Torre on how she rose to the top and her vision for the school’s (possible) expansion

Neil deGrasse Tyson on Ice Fishing in Space—and Coming to San Diego

The prolific scientist brings his touring show An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies to Civic Theatre
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Best of San Diego Party 2018
  2. Good Night, Cafe Chloe
    San Diego’s beloved French bistro is closing due to California’s unfair labor laws
  3. The Best of San Diego 2018
    We crown 103 winners in food, shopping, fitness, kids’ activities, and more
  4. Javier Plascencia Eyes Barrio Logan
    The award-winning chef is all over Mexico, but looks to make a San Diego comeback
  5. Stop Killing Chloes
    How California is very knowingly killing the mom and pop restaurant
  6. First Look: El Jardin
    Native chef Claudette Wilkins goes from Bracero to Top Chef and, finally, to her own dream
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags