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Bad habits sure are hard to break

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POSTED: December 10, 2012 7:00 p.m.

I wish I could pick and choose which of my habits, traits and characteristics my daughter will inherit and pick up. Since Reese was born in April, I find myself increasingly thinking about trying to set a good example. I haven’t actually implemented any changes, however. It’s much easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk.

Sure, I have some run-of-the-mill bad habits — I occasionally use unladylike language; I have a serious sweet tooth; I procrastinate; and I’m a less-than-stellar housekeeper. However, I also possess some character flaws I need to work on, and I’m concerned those may be the things my little girl picks up.

I take things too personally. I have a temper that, although not easily evoked, has been known to reach scary levels, and I can hold a grudge like nobody’s business. I hold grudges against myself for not holding enough grudges. It’s a characteristic I’ve never liked but, try as I might, I’ve had a tough time eradicating it. It’s something I hope my daughter never picks up or, better yet, notices in me. If that’s my goal, though, I’m going to have to carve out a path to reach it.

Simply telling myself to stop getting angry and holding grudges doesn’t work — I know that from experience. So I’m employing what I call “the sensible person’s approach.” When I feel tempted to get upset and place prolonged blame on a friend, relative or associate for something seemingly inconsequential, I ask myself, “Would a sensible person be angry about this?” If the answer is no — and it usually is — I tell myself to move on.

My reasoning here is that I do want my daughter to be a sensible person. What better example to set for her than that of a level-headed, rational individual.

It’s funny how children act as mirrors in a way, forcing us to see the quirks and flaws in ourselves that were much easier to overlook before the little ones came along. The knowledge that there’s a small person in existence who potentially could turn out just like me — for better or for worse — has made me realize I should have been living my life more admirably all along.

Yes, I want my daughter to see the best in me and, hopefully, pick up on my positive traits. But I also want those around me — not just my child — to view me in the most positive light. So, whether Reese is around, from here on out, I’ll try to behave like she always knows what I’m up to.

 

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