Rate Your Role Modeling

Little pitchers have big ears.

Rate Your Role Modeling

Ellen: This idiom befuddled me as a child.

Erin: Really? It just refers to little children overhearing and understand more conversations than their parents might think. It’s an allusion to the ear-like handles often found on smaller pitchers. I think the phrase dates back at least to early 16th century England . . .

Ellen: I said as a child. A CHILD. You’re the bee’s knees of old timey phraseology. I swear it’s like blogging with a senior citizen. Now that I’m a mother, I know exactly what it means. To quote a great poet: “I always feel like somebody’s watching me.”

Erin: And you are the grand master flash of quoting 80s pop music. But kids are doing more than just watching and listening in this digital age. They’re reading what we write in texts and on Facebook and Twitter, also.

Ellen: We all monitor our kids online, but don’t think for a second they aren’t monitoring us too.

Erin: That’s why our blog is pretty PG rated. We started it when our kids were older and after several of them were already active on social media. We wanted them to be able to read it without us having a lot of ‘splaining to do.

Ellen: We already knew how hard parenting teens was and we just didn’t want to make it harder on ourselves.

Erin: Plus we are not the best at compartmentalizing. Our lives are sprawling, happy messes with one area sloshing over onto another. The CIA is not seeking us out as double agents, that’s for sure.

Ellen: This is not to say that blogs can’t be meant for mature audiences, it’s just not what we do.

Erin: We don’t do fashion blogging either, unless modeling Keens counts, and that certainly doesn’t make it bad or wrong.

Ellen: So we write without f-bombs and raunch, but how are we doing on a more subtle, subliminal level?

Erin: We questioned ourselves a bit at our recent summit with the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR) after hearing Haley Kilpatrick, Founder and Executive Director of Girl Talk, speak.

Ellen: Girl Talk’s mission is to help young teenagers build self-esteem, develop leadership skills, and recognize the value of community service. They have this program called T.H.I.N.K. to remind everyone to “THINK before you speak, text or type.”

Erin: Yeah, that lesson is not just for teens. They want you to consider, “Is what I’m saying True, Helpful, Important, Necessary, and Kind?”

Ellen: That is some pretty good stuff. So when Haley later went on to discuss how it angers and confuses children when their mothers present themselves as one way to the world and another way to them, we took notice.

Erin: And when FAAR later asked, “What messages are we sending our kids when we joke about drinking?” it definitely was a moment that made us go, “Hmmmmmmm.”

Ellen: Children’s most “preventative years” are between the ages of six and ten. In other words, this is when they are the most receptive to learning healthy, balanced behaviors. So in terms of alcohol, are we unintentionally normalizing drinking as a coping strategy when we talk about wine as “Mommy’s Juice” or joke that our kids drive us to drink?

Erin: Now adults are allowed to have grown-up conversations with mature jokes. Yes, we enjoy those from time to time . . . or always.

Ellen: But the food for thought is that what we post online might not be away from little eyes. Your Wee Wendy might not have a smartphone, but 88.3% of her friends do and it is just one quick click to check out your Twitter feed.

Erin: And I know I always have my Facebook profile open on my laptop. I can’t be the only one.

Ellen: No, you are not.

Erin: Kids judge in pretty concrete black and white terms; it’s a developmental thing. The best parenting strategy for this is honesty and consistency. How do we as parents find the balance between falsely homogenizing our lives down to a G-rated movie and being the best role models we can be?

Ellen: Seriously! We want your opinion! Watch this video and see what FAAR’s #RefreshYourFunny means. We would love to hear what you have to say.

Erin: It’s time to rate your role modeling. Where do you find the parenting balance?

This piece is part of the series we write as ambassadors for FAAR. We receive compensation, but all opinions are our own.


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14 thoughts on “Rate Your Role Modeling

  1. Kim Bongiorno at Let Me Start By Saying

    I feel like it needs to be an open dialogue that is ongoing. I don’t want too many wine jokes, but they are tongue-in-cheek and I hope my kids realize that by seeing my behavior. I may enjoy wine (beer, margaritas, etc), but I drink responsibly and not very often. They hear me say, “None for me-I’m driving” and “One glass is plenty, thanks” when I’m offered drinks.

    It also is reflective in the rest of your non-booze conversations. Like, sometimes my young kids ask me to explain something or borrow something or watch something or try something and I simply say, “That’s not for you-that’s for grown-ups only.”

    I have an answer for all questions, I think of what I’m saying/modeling in front of them and ALSO when other people say things in front of them (like a friend who said in front of her kids and mine that she “has to lose 20 lbs” when she’s actually perfect so I said “You’re so strong, healthy, and beautiful just how you are” to temper that message).
    Kim Bongiorno at Let Me Start By Saying recently posted..How to Get Pregnant Again After Having Your 1st Kid Whether You Are Ready or NotMy Profile

    1. The Sisterhood Post author

      Ellen and I were just talking about being mindful of making sure our kids, especially our teens, see us hand off the keys if we’ve been drinking at a party. I love the idea of having alternative messages at the ready to counter the messages they may be misinterpreting. Erin

  2. hollow tree ventures

    I agree with Kim; I think kids do listen and watch, but they do listen to and watch *everything.* That is to say, if they saw me post to Twitter or Facebook “I need a break #glugglug” or something else suggestive of drinking, they also see me at home not actually drinking. LIkewise, I might post about wanting to faceplant into a cake and eat the whole thing, but they know I’m not really going to. I don’t want them to see alcohol in the wrong light, but I also don’t want them to think it’s taboo or wrong (thus potentially making it mysterious and tempting). I want them to see that there are healthy ways to do things in moderation in most cases, and that some things are okay for adults but not kids. And like Kim pointed out, there are often good teaching moments in our real life reactions, which I believe have far more influence than a Facebook post.
    hollow tree ventures recently posted..Adulthood: 40 Things That Are Harder To Figure Out Than a Rubik’s CubeMy Profile

    1. The Sisterhood Post author

      Ellen and I have talked a lot amongst ourselves about making the distinction about things that are ok for adults and things that are ok for kids. Ellen’s favorite analogy is the treadmill. The treadmill is great (some might argue even necessary) but it’s not for kids at all. In fact, it can hurt them very much. It’s important to make these distinctions for them. Erin

  3. Nicole Leigh Shaw

    I make, share, and like wine jokes online. In fact, I like most jokes about parenting that allow me to laugh and, in the process, let off some steam, making me a more relaxed parent overall.

    That said, I think transparency is important. I enjoy wine—very much! I enjoy wine jokes—very much! But I’m very clear with my kids about my views and who I am in most settings (barring private conversations). I think it’s important to not be afraid to talk truthfully with kids. And to talk about appropriateness and boundaries.
    Nicole Leigh Shaw recently posted..It’s snot easy being mom. #giveawayMy Profile

    1. The Sisterhood Post author

      I think it’s the transparency and honesty that you allude here that appeal to me about this approach. Children don’t necessarily need to know everything about you, but they need to be able to expect the same things from you time and time again. A parent’s responsibility is consistency and stability. Erin

  4. Allison Hart

    This is something I think about a lot. Well, not with social media since my kids are little, but I think about who I am when I’m alone with my kids vs when I’m with my friends and my kids. Yes, the behavior changes and jokes change and I know little ears are listening. I’m the same person with the same values, always, and I believe that my kids are smart enough to know this from years of living with me and knowing me. I do drink. I drink like a responsible adult. I never drink and drive. When we go out my husband and I make a point of saying, “I’ll drive, you can have a drink if you’d like.” When friends come to stay for a weekend we might go through a few bottles of wine. But again, there is never any driving. My kids surely associate alcohol with adult social settings, and that’s OK with me. We do drink more with friends; we eat more too. For them, alcohol use is demonstrated similarly to other indulgences like chips and sweets.
    Allison Hart recently posted..What Almost HappenedMy Profile

    1. The Sisterhood Post author

      Haley Kilpatrick explained to us from her work with adolescent girls that kids just want to know that you are the same person: not one face to them, another face to Aunt Peggy, another face to your boss. I think what you said is one of the keys, “I’m the same person with the same values, always, and I believe that my kids are smart enough to know this from years of living with me and knowing me.” It would be a great conversation starter to ask them what they think are some important values. Ellen

  5. Keesha

    My husband and I drink with dinner often. I think — hope — that our kids see it as something to enjoy with a meal. They have juice and we have beer, wine or margaritas. We don’t always have drinks and we NEVER get drunk in front of them. We enjoy in moderation.

    Still I think the idea that these are adult beverages puts a certain mystique in them, which will make my kids eager to have their turn. At some point we will have all those very heavy conversations about appropriate adult behavior, and of course, the consequences of over-indulging. Hopefully, armed with our words of wisdom as well as a few experiences they will be able to make smart choices, while still enjoying adult freedoms.

    1. The Sisterhood Post author

      You can never go wrong with talking early and honestly about important things like drinking. Grab the opportunities for discussions as then arise so you won’t be forced into a long lecture later. No one wants that, amiright? 🙂 Ellen

  6. Lance

    Here’s the irony – if you are a close-knit family, like I am with the 4 women I live with, then everyone pays attention to everything and everyone is all up in each other’s business. If you’re a distant family, like I was with my folks and sister, then you just don’t remember, pay attention or care.

    I don’t drink around my kids, because 1) I’ve had a history with it, that’s borderline alcoholism 2) they pay attention and don’t want dad drinking or doing “bad” stuff.

    Me and my girls talk A LOT. But it’s overall a good thing. How do I rate myself? Ask them. I’m sure my rating is too high for their “reality”.
    Lance recently posted..100 Word Song Everything Is AwesomeMy Profile

    1. The Sisterhood Post author

      Lance, in our Listen to Your Mother piece, we actually asked our kids to rate us! We’re crazy right? I think we are publishing a version of it for Mother’s Day.

      Keep on keeping on doing your good daddy thing. Ellen

    1. The Sisterhood Post author

      My daughter’s friend came up to me and said, “Miss Ellen, I really liked the last thing you wrote on your blog.” I couldn’t help but be like, “Yikes.” Even though we are clean and we don’t share our kids’ secrets or angst (or embarrassing moments). I now just assume all of my kids’ friends are reading. I KNOW they are following me on Instagram, I can see them. 🙂 Ellen


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