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Happy New Year baby

Published:Monday | January 18, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Emma Dalton-Brown, Gleaner Writer

Grown-ups make New Year resolutions all the time, and some teenagers do as well. However, do children? It probably depends on their age and exposure. If a child hears people promising themselves they'll do this or that, then he or she might get the idea to 'copy' them. Will they be better at following their word than adults? What age do you think this starts? I mean, it's highly unlikely that my baby boy is lying in his crib, thinking to himself, "So what am I going to do this year to improve myself?" Let's face it though, he doesn't need to do a thing. He's perfect already!

These pledges that many of us make, on the first day of January every year, are often farcical. How many of us stick to them for longer than an hour, much less a week? "I'll eat more healthy"; "I'll never drink alcohol again"; "I'll give more money to the poor"; "I'll visit elderly relatives more often"; "I won't curse a bad word"; "I will not be late for anything". The list goes on.

What kind of message are we sending to our children when we cannot keep the simplest self-intent? To think that we would then turn around and 'tell them off' for forgetting to hang the clothes out on the washing line, or for pretending they've already done their homework when they have not! How can any of us expect our sons and daughters to follow through with commitments they have made, when they see us breaking ours?

Wow! There I go pulling the plug on the fun of making that New Year's resolution list. Once considered to be a light-hearted ritual, it has now become a mind-spinning issue. What have I done! The thing is, there might well be an opportunity here. One where the whole family can benefit and bond with one another.

Tendency to tease

My husband and I have been discussing whether our son picks up behaviour from this age: he is now eight months. While we agree that he does, I am more concerned about it. My husband has the tendency to tease and, being his wife, I get my fair share of it. It's harmless to me really, but what is it teaching the little man? Will he grow up following his Dad's actions? If so, I do not think it's right for a child to mock a parent. I also would not want my son to feel like he is being ridiculed either. I am not saying that the odd ribbing here and there is not good for building character, but there gets to a point when it is too much.

On the flip side, I sometimes take life too seriously. Neither of us would want our child to carry the world's weight on his shoulders. So, it's up to us, as parents, to come up with a happy medium. Should that be our resolution?

I am thinking that in a family situation, personal resolutions should be ditched. Bring on the ones which everyone in the house can follow together! Mums and Dads will have to lead by example, encouraging each other, and the children, to keep them up. They should have purpose, and be understood by the children. Perhaps some should be made up by the children, so that they feel a part of the decision to do this. You might consider having consequences to breaking a promise: collecting money for charity; doing a household chore; helping out in the community. All the above are positive steps towards solidifying the family unit. Even the forfeits benefit someone in a good way! What better way to start the next decade. Happy New Year baby!