by Angela Smith, HEAL National Coordinator/Co-Founder
If you are in a position of responsibility to provide guidance and/or leadership to others, you may wish to consider how your own actions inspire or may be emulated by those who see you as a role model, whether in life or in business. If you find those to whom you owe a responsibility as a role model to be failing to meet your expectations, then ask yourself a few questions regarding how you might improve your guidance in order to help others improve their conduct.
In the event you are a parent who is displeased with the dishonesty of one of your children in a particular situation, ask and honestly answer the following questions (the same questions and responses may be useful in other guide/guided relationships):
1. Have I ever lied in front of my child and asked them to lie about the same situation when talking about it to a third party? If you have done so, you will want to first state to the child that you have been a hypocrite and that you plan to be honest from now on and expect them to make a similar commitment. If you have not done so, then you can ask where they learned or got the idea to be dishonest since that is not the example you have set and have reason for concern they've learned to lie from someone else.
2. Have I ever been impatient, unwilling to listen, interrupted, or otherwise unreasonable when discussing a controversial issue with my child? If you have done so, you again will want to admit you have been a hypocrite and that you will be patient and listen without interruption to your child's position or side of things without prejudice and ask they commit to doing the same going forward.
3. Have I ever broken the law in front of my child and demanded his/her silence when questioned by police or victim? If you have taken money from another family member's wallet/purse without permission, shop-lifted, committed any traffic violation, hit someone else, or even hit a parked car, curb, or other object in front of your child and told them not to report or speak to police, you have made them an accomplice or accessory as a result of your request for their silence. In addition, you have arguably created a situation where your child won't know when it is appropriate to report a crime and if they are hurt by someone else (i.e. raped/molested) who also tells them to keep quiet, they may assume adults just commit crimes all the time and expect everyone else to be quiet. So, this type of conduct puts children in harm's way and may result in their not reporting crimes to law enforcement when appropriate. If you have not done so, then again you are in a position to ask where they got the idea criminal activity was okay and something all adults do and cover up.
Those three questions should be enough to get you started and thinking about how your own actions of a vicious nature involving deception, dishonesty, impatience, hostility, unreasonableness, and crime may have set up your child to fail your hypocritical expectations regarding their own life choices. But, if you are truly virtuous and lead by example, you likely have the commitment to truth, honesty, patience, thoughtfulness, and understanding to not need to have read this article or make any changes. Or, if you are #TaoFu and try to be virtuous while sometimes tempted to vice (including deception), then you should certainly be able to be patient with someone less experienced than you when they falter similarly. And, if you are not a total hypocritical narcissist deluding yourself about your own perfection while placing unreasonable expectations on others, then you might forgive even somewhat serious lapses in judgment of those you guide in life understanding that you've done the same or worse at some point. And, if no one turned you in or locked you up, or even if they did and you found it unfair, then, you shouldn't do that to your own loved one(s) unless you are the victim of their crime and you reported it properly to law enforcement to lead by example.
See, parents who privately put their children in segregated congregate care such as boarding schools, treatment centers, and the like without a court order are violating either the Americans with Disabilities Act, Due Process, or both. And, that's illegal. So, if your child has done something they learned from you or for which you might be responsible in failing to encourage virtue while punishing failures in that regard, then starting by acknowledging your own responsibility and committing to improving your guidance while humbly asking your child make a similar commitment is the place to start. Narcissistic vicious morons tend to delude themselves, ignore their own responsibility, and use the child as a scapegoat while placing them illegally in a private prison of sorts to avoid any further embarrassment while claiming their child is off at "boarding school" and "doing well" to anyone who may ask.
Now, some parents are pretty virtuous but still have some issues with patience and an unwillingness to listen as a result of possible authoritarian leadership in their own lives. But, if the parents think about it, they might realize when their own bosses at work ignore their suggestions or needs and just order them to do as told that they feel disrespected and unheard by that and sometimes they might sabotage things at work or steal office supplies to make up for that feeling of being disrespected. And, so, might realize that they want to be patient, respectful, and listen to their children as they'd like their children and others to be with them. Failing to show others the same virtues you'd like them to show you in return, is the definition of hypocrisy. So, it is best to lead by example and if you want everyone to commit to virtue, you have to do that too. If not, you end up like the Catholic Church with people losing faith in you because you viciously hurt children illegally and criminally and cover it up with excuses and lies.
So, instead of setting the example that might makes right and acting as if brutal force and threats to cover up ongoing criminal conduct of your own is acceptable (i.e. conspiracy to commit kidnapping/unlawful imprisonment when placing a minor involuntarily in segregated congregate care without a court order), perhaps start setting the example of being virtuous, patient enough to listen, humble enough to listen without prejudice, and reasonable enough to discuss the risks and benefits of vicious and/or virtuous conduct, whether criminal or not. And, if anyone is engaged in criminal activity for whom you are responsible, warn them that you may never turn them in, but, they've assumed the risk of jail and you may not be able to afford a defense team should that happen. Provide examples from the news or court reporting of others who did the same or similar crime and what their sentence was even with a defense attorney. That should help with explaining why any criminal conduct is advised against should your child be unaware that the United States is a nation of laws or under the mistaken impression based on what you get away with that the laws don't apply to you or you are not legally responsible to exercise due diligence, respect the social contract, Constitution, or laws of the United States. If your child hasn't done anything illegal, practice patience more and listen without prejudice, don't send them to a private prison because you can't exercise self-discipline and lead by example in that regard. That's unjust and could result in your being sued or prosecuted because the laws apply to you too. And, children have constitutional rights and parents have the right to waive their own rights, but, not the rights of their minor children. See: http://www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm for more information. I also recommend you read the blog article available here if considering any boarding school or private academic service: http://heal-online.blogspot.com/2019/01/avoiding-scams-what-you-need-to-know.html
In addition, encourage virtue and recognize when your child or others are virtuous by complimenting them on their virtue. It is better to encourage what is right than to constantly criticize. This was also covered previously here: http://heal-online.blogspot.com/2017/05/fix-your-family-help-your-teen.html