So much of parenting, I think, is modeling for our young ones the behavior we hope they will emulate. Want more vegetables to make it into the tummy of your toddler? Mama and papa have to eat their peas and say how delicious they are. Want the words "please" and "thank you" to be said with more frequency? Mama and papa need to say them to each other as well as to their little one. Kids are so smart and they so readily pick up on hypocrisy. They know when the rules are unfairly different for them than for others and will protest accordingly.
And it works for poor behavior as well. I've tsked tsked (in my new crotchety old woman way) when I see tweens demonstrating what I consider to be poor cell phone etiquette, such as talking loudly and obnoxiously on their phones in public or not excusing themselves from their social group before answering their ringing phone, only to see mom or dad commit the same faux pas. It becomes no wonder where they picked up such behavior. It's not up to society to teach our kids how to behave, it's up to us.
Several times Steve and I have nervously said to each other, "well, he's not old enough to understand" when we model less-than-desirable behavior in front of Silas. Our language especially needs some work. At times it's difficult to tell whether one is in the Cable household or at the docks (ahem). It's so important to me that Silas have a foundation of kindness, love, and empathy to grow from and he will learn those traits primarily from Steve and I, meaning that I need to be far more mindful of my words and actions. Since we don't know exactly where that magic line of "old enough to understand" lies, it's important that we get in the habit now of behaving as if there are little eyes on us soaking in our every move. Because there are.