Growing up, we have heard our parents, grandparents, guardians say: Do as I say and not as I do.
If this were Monopoly, that statement would be every adult’s “get out of being called a hypocrite” card.
Think about it. People only say this when their hands are caught in the cookie jar. The very same cookie jar they declared NO ONE is supposed to touch.
When I was a child/teen I thought this saying was stupid and unfair. And, as an adult and parent my opinion has not changed. It is a cop out. It is your way of avoiding being accountable to hypocrisy and/or wrongdoing. And as a parent, teacher, manager, future aunt and future grandmother I know that I have to hold myself to a higher standard. And anyone who has any authority, leadership, or caretaker responsibility should also.
We are supposed to lead by example. But too many of us want to lead in title/name only. We just want to give orders. We want people to answer to us. We want to not have to answer to anyone. Not even ourselves.
Do as I say, not as I do.
We call in “sick” from work when we really just don’t feel like going in.
So can we get mad when our child plays sick so that they can stay home from school?
Do as I say, not as I do.
We talk all night on the phone gossiping about our neighbors or friends.
Our kid calls their classmate ugly-to their face.
And we tell them “That’s not nice.”
Do as I say not as I do.
I think the real problem I have with this saying is that it implicates right away that what you are doing and what you are saying do not line up.
It is an obvious confession of being a hypocrite wrapped up in an implied excuse that basically says “so what, I’m the adult you’re the child.”
Ugh. As if.
Does being an adult mean that you have a “right” to be inconsistent?
I think every parent who thinks this way and who has used this line should be ashamed of themselves. We would not accept inconsistency or hypocrisy in any setting, from anyone else.
If our boss declared a zero-tolerance policy on being late, yet they were habitually late, we’d have something to say.
If the Pastor told us that we are supposed to give tithes and offerings yet he didn’t, we’d be up in arms.
And not to mention if our Christian family/friends/co-workers told us we need Jesus and should go to church, but then we found them doing the dougie at the club, we’d have a problem.
Yet, when it comes to our children we excuse ourselves from teaching them one way and doing something different. Shame on us.
All we are doing is perpetuating that same thinking in our kids- that when they become adults/parents they can be just as inconsistent, double-minded, wavering, hypocritical, and basically unreliable as we are. Yup, I said it. Unreliable. How does that sit with you?
Do as I say not as I do, says that there is no telling whether or not what you are teaching your child is right or wrong, true or false. After all, if it is “right” then Mom/Dad why aren’t YOU doing it? And if it is wrong, then Auntie/Uncle why are YOU saying it? And Grandma if you lied to me about this, how do I know you didn’t lie to me about that? Hmmm.
The solution is easy. Actually, there are two.
- Stop using this phrase. If you find yourself in the situation where you are caught doing or saying something contrary to what you have taught your child then just be honest with your child and say so. Our children are smarter than we think and understand far more than we know. Love and respect your child to tell him/her the truth. Even if it is uncomfortable. Besides, don’t you want your child to tell you the truth, no matter what? Even if they are wrong? Even if it means they will get in trouble? So, lead by example. If you want truth BE truthful.
- Keep using the phrase AND make sure that your actions are consistent with your words. Walk your talk. Then, your child can see you as an honest and reliable person and will aspire to be just as honest and reliable as you.
This hits home for me and I know that I have to and WILL do better in certain areas. I’ve GOT to “practice what I preach.”
My son’s future depends on it.