Welcome to my new series about the importance of being good role models for our children. It’s not always easy, and we definitely won’t do it perfectly.
But we aren’t after perfection. Rather, we are after trying our best to raise our children for the Lord with His tender, gracious, and patient assistance. We are striving for grace, humility, and forgiveness. For kindness, understanding, and patience.
According to the Barna Group, “What we build into a child’s life prior to the age of 13 represents the moral and spiritual foundation that defines them as individuals and directs their choices for the remainder of their life. Garbage in, garbage out…”
Let those words sink in.
While we will still make a difference in our children’s life long after they are 13, those first formative years, according to the quote above, are the most critical in laying the groundwork.
When we were first married, I bought my husband a video camera for Christmas. Back then, video cameras were much bigger than they are today. In fact, this video camera was the size of the kind you see in movie studios. After we had children, we found ourselves being the only ones with an oversized camcorder at birthday parties and playdates. The video camera served us well until it died and we were forced to buy a newer more compact model.
These days, we simply record with our cell phones. Smaller, more efficient, and always at the ready.
It didn’t matter if our video camera was two feet long or hand-held size, or built into our cell phones: it recorded with the simple touch of a button. Our children are like video cameras – they record what goes on around them, whether they’re teens, toddlers, or somewhere in between.
Our kids are watching our habits.
My husband Lon is addicted to condiments. He loves ketchup, salsa, sour cream, salad dressing, and especially mayonnaise. It’s not uncommon for my condiment king to have a condiment as his main meal with a side of hamburger. Forget the dream home or the new shiny Dodge truck. Nope, large barrels with spigots continually full of a variety of condiments would be Lon’s dream come true.
One day our oldest daughter, Sunshine, sat down to eat dinner. I watched as she poured piles of ketchup, sour cream, and salsa on her taco. Because I like everything plain, such behavior is utterly gross to me.
Like father, like daughter. Sunshine had grown up with a condiment king father and now she had become the condiment princess. Our kids model our behavior whether we realize it or not. They model our behavior – the good, the bad, and the ugly. The healthy and the unhealthy habits. And just like a video camera, they record the world and the examples around them, including those set my their parents.
Our kids are watching our faith
At the Easter service at church, we sat behind a family with two kids. The mom and kids appeared excited to be at church and eager to partake in the service. The dad? Not so much. There could be a million reasons why the dad’s body language showed a lackluster interest in being in church that day, and I won’t try to interpret the reason because that’s not the purpose of this post. However, what is the purpose is that the son, the younger of the two children, at about 12 years old, continually watched the dad.
He looked to his dad at every turn. When we sang, when we prayed, when we listened to the sermon, and when we stood up and filed out of the sanctuary.
When we show the value of our faith in our lives, it sets a Godly example for our kids of what is important.
Our kids are watching how we react.
How did we react when someone was unkind to us? When a fellow driver cut us off in traffic? When a friend betrays us? When our boss or coworker treat us badly?
Again, we are not after perfection. But we are after setting a Godly example. Kids mimic what they see.
Our kids are watching our humility.
How do we react when we are the recipients of harsh words or something hateful? When we make a mistake? When we fail to curb our temper? Our children are watching our humility and our willingness (or lack thereof) to admit to a mistake. It’s especially critical that when we, as parents, make a mistake affecting our children that we apologize.
Our kids are watching our responses.
Last year was an interesting year to say the least. While most are happy that 2020 is in the rear-view mirror, many, including myself are facing some concern as to what 2021 may bring. While it is easy to fear and become anxious over the many frightening changes our current year is bringing, we as parents have to remember that in the midst of that anxiety and fears, our children are watching how we respond.
It is truly only by God’s grace that in the midst of troubling times, we can turn to and rest in Him. It is only by spending time in prayer and in His Word that we can turn from the troubling issues at hand and keep our eyes on Him.
Our children are watching how we respond to all the craziness of our current times. They are watching when we turn to God, when we pray, when we immerse ourselves in His Word, and when we cry out to Him.
Next week, I’ll expound on the above topics and provide resources to help us for all of those times when the red “recording” light is on and our children are watching.
Before you go, check out these other posts:
the video camera is always on, part 2
the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves
you might be a writer if…10 ways to know
6 ways to stick with homeschooling (when you want to give up)