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Give yourself some credit

I recently asked my children whom they most want to be like when they grow up, fully expecting to hear names of renowned personalities.

My eldest son — a teenager and therefore less than dazzled by his somewhat frumpy mother — predictably named an extremely successful celebrity as his hero.

My eight-year-old daughter however surprised me by saying that she wanted to be just like me. It was all I could do not to spout a fountain of tears at this heart-felt confession.

I sought to understand why she would pick me as her hero when there were so many other more qualified candidates who fit the bill.

In her view, her excellent performances in class, prowess in Kiswahili poetry (mashairi), excellent physical and dental hygiene, fairly decent manners and the fact that she does not think of housework as a word are almost solely attributable to my tireless efforts.

In our rush to fulfill the countless responsibilities that assail us as parents, we often forget to give credit where it is due: To ourselves.

Any parent will tell you that it takes real patience and skill to juggle parenthood, career, extended family and whichever other commitments one may have.

Being a role model does not require a very high IQ, a posh residential address or the most fashionable clothes.

It does, however, disqualify those who have flexible stances on ethics and morality.

Being a role model also requires parents to go the extra mile, which all good parents must do. Fortunately, there are no traffic jams along the extra mile.

Pleasantly surprised

Before my daughter admitted her admiration for me I would never have thought that what I do, and consider ordinary, makes me an extraordinary person.

But I looked at things from a different perspective and came to the conclusion that I must be a good role model.

A recent instance comes to mind:My daughter and I were taking a stroll around our neighbourhood recently when I spied Sh100 on the ground.

She insisted we leave the dirty note on the ground as she does not subscribe to the widespread belief of ‘finders keepers’.

I suggested we pick up the money and give it to a beggar who lives near our marketplace, which suggestion was met with the maddening rejoinder that I should stop behaving like Scrooge and give the beggar money from my own pocket instead.

I could not help feeling irritated because, at that particular moment, I was coming across as a person who doesn’t always practise what she preaches.

Later though, I cut myself some slack because it was my advice at an earlier date that fuelled my daughter’s conviction that accepting freebies should be avoided — she was modelling her behaviour to fit what I had told her time and again.

Every hero has his Kryptonite, and I live in fear of inadvertently leading my children down the wrong path.

However, I remain encouraged when I see the innumerable examples of family and friends who give their all to their families, and who are models worth emulating.

To each and everyone of these, I say congratulations on a job well done and remember to give yourself some credit for raising your children well!