Mississauga, April 11 (CINEWS): How many of us would admit that some of the bad habits our children exhibit may have been learned from us? Or, that the good ones we’re so proud of came from our parents? Children are like sponges, they learn from what they observe. Parents are the most influential role models. I find myself unconsciously mimicking many of my mother’s mannerisms even though we have lived in different continents for more than 16 years. It made me stop and think about the effect I was having on my kids!
Unsafe driving practices
As a responsible parent, you have probably given your kids the spiel on DUI and phone use when driving. Yet your actions can send a totally different message when they don’t match your words. A study done by Liberty Mutual and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) in 2012 found that teens whose parents who practiced unsafe driving habits like texting or talking on the phone while driving, were likely to do the same. Here are some interesting findings:
•Nearly 91% of teens witnessed their parents talking and driving.. and 90% admitted to doing it as well.
•59% of parents were caught texting and driving and this in a way encouraged their kids to do the same.
•Worse still, 20% witnessed their parents drive drunk and 15% of teens did it as well.
Let’s face it we all know people who drink and drive. The list is too long for comfort and even one name is too many. But the more important point to focus on here is—aren’t their kids likely to think it is okay?
I am reminded of a family that does not eat in the car because the son almost choked on a piece of food when he was 3. They never broke the habit even when we went on trips. Good or bad habits all depend on your conditioning!
Can’t wait to download the latest films and songs from the Internet? It might not seem like a big deal because ‘everyone’s doing it’, but it still is a copyright infringement. When children see their parents doing this it confuses their perception of right and wrong. A study that was commissioned by the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation in Australia in 2013 revealed that parental influence was a key factor in influencing the behaviour of kids aged 12 to 17 with respect to piracy. In fact 78% of kids who didn’t engage in piracy said that their parents had spoken to them about it.
Piracy and illegal downloading is stealing, why should it be perceived differently just because it is done online. Many kids rationalize that it is alright because it is not causing any harm. Guess who nudged their thinking in that direction? Asking your child to do illegal downloads for you is a prime example.
According to Cancer Research UK, a child who sees a parent smoking is three times more likely to take up smoking when he/she is older. Another study conducted by the Pennsylvania State University was even more hard hitting. It found that in homes with a persistent heavy-smoking parent, the oldest sibling is influenced to smoke. This increases the chances that younger siblings will smoke by six times.
A South Asian gentleman has been openly smoking weed in his home for years. Now he and his 20-something son sit and smoke it together.
Smoking, drinking, drug use and eating patterns are all influenced in a large way by our parents. Studies suggest that a child with one obese parent has 50% chance of being obese. This risk increases to 80% if both parents are obese!
It might not surprise you to know that children learn racial bias at home. But what is an eye-opener is how this might happen. Several new studies indicate that a family’s social circle might also encourage discrimination. For instance, if you only associate with people of similar ethnicity, your children might end up doing the same. This is because they become comfortable only with a certain community or believe that is the norm. Research revealed that white children are likely to show a preference for white friends by the age of 4. This does not indicate that white people are biased but that their preference might be impacted by the type of people they are associating with. If you have a diverse circle of friends, your kids are more likely to exhibit the same behaviour.
So the next time you see your son or daughter doing something you don’t like, look in the mirror. There is big chance that are they are replicating behaviour they have seen at home.
And if you’re truly not guilty of any of the above, never having done them, not even once… then congratulations and keep up the good work.