Monkey See, Monkey Do

February 12th, 2013 posted by Kellie Head

two monkeys

It’s easy to agree that setting a good example for our children is important. We can also agree that setting a good example has its’ price. I choke down tofu chicken and steamed spinach with a smile on my face, not only to prove its edibility, but also to instill healthy eating habits in my offspring. This is the same group of kids who search cereal boxes for the disclaimer “with no ingredients that occur in nature” before giving it their seal of approval. I try to teach by example in other areas, as well. We recycle our aluminum cans, use environment friendly cleaners and I almost have my kids convinced that wearing garage sale clothes makes recycling sense, but also makes them trendsetters; vogue fashion plates. This was easier when they were babies. After all, babies aren’t able to articulate their style preferences. Come to think of it, hand-me-down infant wear may be at the root of all unexplained cases of colic.

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Maybe things were easier when our parents were rearing kids. Back then there were roll models and heroes for kids to idolize and emulate. Every little boy wanted to be The Lone Ranger (fashion wasn’t such a big concern in those days), riding through town, protecting the distressed villagers and saving the day. Today, kids identify with Bart Simpson, reciting catch phrases like “Don’t have a cow, man” and instigating primary school revolution. Admittedly, I, too, wanted to revolt against the cafeteria’s Mystery Meat Wednesday, but it always served as the perfect “get out of math class by spending an hour in the nurses office” excuse. Parents once beamed with pride when their children looked up to athletes such as Joe Dimaggio or Gordie Howe. Their clean-cut, wholesome personas provided the perfect role model; live clean and play fair! Somehow, most adolescents don’t apply the “live clean” portion of this theory to their bedroom. But (there’s always a “but”), the sports figures of the 90’s are little help in the good example department. Who wants their son taking his cues from the likes of basketball star Dennis Rodman? Or our daughters for that matter? Even Milton Burl looked better in drag than Rodman, and every Mary Kay representative worthy of her pink powder-puff is itching to get take a crack at reapplying his eye shadow and lip liner. We’ve also looked to the White House for great American heroes. Honest Abe Lincoln and Harry “the buck stops here” Truman merited admiration and respect from our youth. Sadly, kids today probably know more about slick Willie’s exploits than the rights granted to them in the constitution. Much to my teen’s dismay, this does not include the right to rot his brain with MTV or thrive on Skittles as a food group.

I Killed June Cleaver : Modern Moms Shatter the Myth of Perfect Parenting It’s time to do away with the image of the ideal mom -the one living in a spotless house with fresh cookies in the oven, nail polish that doesn’t chip, and little darlings she never has to scream at in public.

Our mothers of tomorrow will likely not be Donna Reed super moms or even Gloria Steinem career clones. It’s quite possible to find a horrifying mixture of Roseanne and Madonna, producing tacky lingerie wearing, bad attitude toting whiners with an obscene amount of income to appease their every whim. This particular example sounded worse in my head than it does on paper. Shopping sprees on Rodeo Drive and weekend spa trips would be nice, but as a parent, I must make practical financial decisions – Hamburger Helper instead of T-bones, Disney Channel instead of Disney World and Mini Van instead of sports car. Maybe the movie industry and the politicians already know what I am just beginning to realize. Setting a good example for our children takes all the fun out of being middle aged.

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about the author Kellie Head resides in central Illinois, is married and is the mother of six children, ages 15 to 9 months. She is a freelance humor writer and the publishing editor of The M Word , an online parenting humor magazine.

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