I think my title phrase is one of the worst tools in the parental tool box. It may not even be in the tool box. It is more likely a band-aid at the bottom of the parenting emergency first-aid kit. My Dad used this term from time to time. He didn't use it because he had a habit of not following his own advice. He used it because kids are crafty, and they see every time you make a mistake. They are waiting for that chance to tell you that you broke the very rules you have decreed.
Knowing that kids are always watching is all the more reason for us as parents to watch our every move. Our children will imitate everything we do whether good or bad. I have a couple simple example from my own life of ways I imitated my Dad.
I drink my coffee with cream and sugar. Why? That is how my Dad drinks his.
I smoked for about 7 years. I am glad to say that I quit about 6 years ago. It is one of my proudest achievements. When I did smoke I insisted on smoking soft packs rather than the hard packs that all my friends smoked. At the time it was because I was used to them, but why did I start smoking those soft packs? My Dad's smokes were always in a soft pack.
These are just two small examples. Every kid imitates their parents in millions of ways. Everything from making the choice between mustard and mayonnaise to college and career choices. You never know which of your habits they will follow so it is best to watch everything you do.
To use another cliche, "Actions speak louder than words." This is not only true of parenting. At work you don't get paid by the sales you plan to make. You get paid by the ones you actually make. Football players don't get credit for the touchdowns they intend to score. They only get credit once they actually cross the goal line. This is the way the world works. As parents we are in the same boat. We are judged by our actions not our well meaning intentions.
I got off on the do as I say terminology because I myself have not been doing what I say. On this site I am always writing about my philosophies of raising a child. I write about how I love being a father, and I never miss anything from my life before child. I suppose what I am saying is that what I write here is all in theory and sometimes I fall miserably short.
I have struggled with the reality of being husband, father, and engineer in the past few weeks. I have not always been there 100% for my family when I get home from work. My body is there, but my mind is elsewhere, and my actions have shown it.
I guess this is an online confession that I have not lived up to the words on this blog. Most of you only know the theoretical me, which of course is the best I can possibly be. In the real world I find myself floating somewhere below that high standard. Arica and Braden don't get the theoretical me. They get the real guy with all his flaws and shortcomings.
Sorry Arica and Braden. I promise that I will improve that reality until it at least brushes up against the things I preach here.