By Dr Arne Rubinstein 

Recently, while cleaning up after lunch, I found myself reflecting upon my childhood and how my mother always kept a spotlessly tidy kitchen. We had an unspoken routine in our house where after every meal, the dishes were done immediately and at night, the kitchen was neat and tidy and ready for use the following day. Even though so much time has passed (more than I like to think about), that early habit has been embedded into my own adult routine.

This ties perfectly into what I really want to discuss today, which is that children learn by what we do and not what we say.

I often get asked by parents what they can do to stop their children getting involved in drugs and alcohol as they get older. What’s going to really make a difference? A vital part of answering this question is simply recognising what it is that they see you doing. If they see you drinking every night, if they see that alcohol is involved at every opportunity, then there’s a really good chance that when they become teenagers and adults, that’s what they’re going to do. It’s such an important thing. If we don’t want our kids to smoke cigarettes, we can’t smoke cigarettes.

In my book, The Making of Men, I discuss this concept in further depth as it is one of the things that I’ve seen time and time again. When we have parents who travel overseas a lot, we often have kids who want to travel overseas. When we have parents who are involved in community work, then often we have kids who want to be involved in community work. In short, never underestimate the impact of what you do and the fact that your children are watching all the time.