This post was inspired by a long conversation with my Mom about her growing up, me growing up, and now me raising children. We enjoy talking about the improvements we’ve made from what our Moms did, and our own shortcomings, and frustrations, and those moments when we realize….we are a whole lot like our Moms….I love my Momma – she is one amazing woman of God and I hope that I’m half the woman she is!
Are we teaching our children to lie? That’s a thought provoking question, and I imagine most of us would say, NO WAY. Let’s examine a scenario:
The phone rings, and your child answers. You’re listening and have decided, for whatever reason (telemarketer, sister you’re mad at, boss you don’t want to talk to?), that you don’t want to take the call, so you shake your head, indicating to your child to tell the caller you are not home/available. Clearly your child can see that you are in fact there, and could take the call.
How about this one:
You get invited to do something totally awesome, on a work day/school day (or any other prior obligation) – and with your child present you call in “sick”.
What about when we are driving? Do we ask our children to watch for police cars? They will notice that when they point one out, you slow down. Do you use your blinker? Come to a complete stop? Obey the speed limit? Your children are paying attention, and they are learning from you how to get away with breaking the rules.
Kids learn by example – in all areas of life. Are your children having a hard time respecting authority? Then examine your own heart, do you respect authority? Do your children lie? Look at yourself, when do you find yourself telling “harmless” lies? Lies are lies – especially to children. How about around the house? Children will commonly keep “their” space as well kept as their parents keep their personal space. In talking with other parents, even if the children don’t automatically clean up, they are more apt to clean up when asked if the space the adults are responsible for is cleaned up.
I am convinced that for children to change, the parents must first change. Children are miniature reflections of ourselves, and it is extremely easy to see the worst behaviors we exhibit, in them. It’s just as easy to separate those behaviors as something our children are doing and miss our own faults.
As I am writing tonight, I am thinking about my daily habits, examining the way I live my life, and asking what kind of example I am setting. I want to make sure that I’m a living example of how I want them to live.
Do I treat the people around me with respect? Do I say please and thank you? Do I do the dishes when the sink is half full or when it is all the way full, and covering the majority of the counter? Do I pick up my dirty laundry? Do I speak respectfully to authority figures in my life? Do I obey the rules all of the time, or just when someone is watching? God is watching, all of the time. If I face life with that truth in mind, and obey the rules all the time, then I can help fully convey that message to my children. Words without action are empty, and let’s face it, children have a hard enough time listening. If my words differ from my actions, they will act upon my actions, and my words will be wasted.
In what areas do you break the rules when nobody is looking? What example have you set that you are most focused on? What can you change about your daily life that will encourage your children to make positive changes in themselves?