My friend, Lindsay, has been cutting hair for a long time. She’s had three children since her early days of hairdressing but she still cuts clients’ hair in her basement “salon,” in between bus driving and mothering responsibilities. Hannah is Lindsay’s oldest daughter and for the past few years, whenever I’ve come to get a haircut, Hannah has always wiggled her way down to the basement so that she can talk with me. We get along well and Hannah loves to talk about her life – school, friends, homework and family. I’ve had the privilege of watching her grow up and she is a beautiful young girl.
After a recent conversation, Hannah quietly began to emulate her mom’s hairdressing skills. I watched with fascination as she confidently washed, dried and put foils in her doll’s hair. Lindsay told me that she never took Hannah aside and taught her how to do all the hairdressing procedures. Instead, Hannah just watched and learned.
Lindsay’s skills were caught, not taught – the strategic way that Hannah combed her fingers through her doll’s hair as she rinsed the shampoo, the soothing head massage she gave that made her “client” relax, the subtle ways she lifted her doll’s hair to blow dry – everything that Lindsay has modelled, Hannah has copied.
What is lived out infront of us is more powerful than what it is told to us. We need both but actions really do speak louder than words. I think it was Emerson who once said, “What you do speaks so loudly, I can hardly hear what you’re saying.”
Children and teenagers watch adults with an eagle eye. They detect phoniness and insincerity quickly and they react to it. Hypocrisy confuses. Words are weak when actions affirm. Truth surfaces, one way or another.
Francis Bacon once said, “He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other.
Ultimately, it’s the example that prevails.
MAKE A MOMENT TO MUSE
- What skills did you learn as a child, merely from watching your parents?
- If you’re a parent, can you remember a funny story of watching your children imitate you?
- Do you agree with the declaration, “One day, I opened my mouth and my mother came out.” Why or why not?