When You Know Better

Posted on May 6, 2011

Pointing Woman

One thing I try to avoid with my kids is hypocrisy.  It is for that reason that I never say to them, “You know better than that!”  Believe me, I feel like saying it on an almost daily basis.  However, I refrain because, the ugly truth is, could also say it to myself just as often.

“You know better than that!” is really just a statement of exasperation. Sometimes parents say it out of exhaustion, but usually there is an underlying fear that our children will not be able to take care of themselves when the time comes.  Depending on the task at hand and on the child’s age, a parent must decide whether to issue another reminder or let the child live by the consequences of his or her actions.

So why don’t we do better when we know better?

For our kids, it is because their cognitive abilities are still developing.  They often do not remember what they know.

Of course, I can’t use that excuse.  Oh, how I wish doing better was as simple as knowing better.  The truth is that even when you know better, it is hard to consistently do better.  Doing better takes a lot more energy, effort, awareness, forethought…a lot more of almost everything.

I know that beating myself up for  little failures will not make anything better.  Instead, I try to judge myself based on who I am, not on what I do.  Likewise, I try to focus on all the great things about by kids, not how many times I have to remind them to do whatever behavior I think should be automatic by now.

On a really “bad day,”when I have not acted in line with what I know is better, at least I can be comforted by the knowledge that, on this issue, I am not a hypocritical parent.