Who is your role model? Mahatma Gandhi? Mother Teresa? Abraham Lincoln? Eleanor Roosevelt? Who are your child's role models? You? Yes. A recent online survey revealed that nearly half of the young women respondents looked to their mothers as their role model.1 In another survey, 42 percent of 750 teens named a relative as their role model.2 In a third survey, 46 percent of teens said their role model is a family member, not a pop icon or sports star.3 Whether you know it or not, you are a role model for your child. Adolescents who have positive role models are more likely to do well in school and have higher self-esteem; they also are less likely to abuse substances.4
What does this mean for you? As a parent, you have more influence for good than maybe you thought you did. By setting a good example of healthy living, you can help your child make healthy choices in his life. You also can talk to your child about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse so that she knows where you stand on this issue.
The following tips can help you be a great role model for your child:
- Share your values with your child
- Demonstrate self-respect and self-esteem with healthy actions
- Be independent instead of following fads
- Use medications carefully
- If you drink alcohol, do so responsibly
- Deal with stress in a healthy way
- Share your success and failures with your child
- Demonstrate your love for each family member
- Discuss the media's portrayal of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs
- Become interested and involved in your child's school and activities5
So, take heart. Your values, opinions, and example carry more weight with your child than you might have thought. You can do battle against the negative messages your child sees and hears.
1 The Acorn. "Teen Girls Still Choose Their Moms as Best Role Models," last referenced 2/20/2003.
2 Yancey, A.K., J.M. Siegel, and K.L. McDaniel. January 2002. Role models, ethnic identity, and health-risk behaviors in urban adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 156(1):55-61, last referenced 2/20/2003.
3 Horatio Alger Association. "The State of Our Nation's Youth," last referenced 2/20/2003.
4 Yancey, A.K., J.M. Siegel, and K.L. McDaniel. January 2002. Role models, ethnic identity, and health-risk behaviors in urban adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 156(1):55-61, last referenced 2/20/2003.
5 National PTA: Common Sense Tip Sheet. "Be a Great Role Model," www.pta.org/commonsense/4_family/4121_roletips.html, last referenced 2/25/2003.
Parents. The AntiDrug. "Be a Good Role Model"
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Health and Human Services.