Children learn a lot by observing, they have their eyes laser-focused on you even when you are not aware of it. My husband and I agree that our parents are our greatest influencers. I see a lot of traits in my husband that make me say, “the apple did not fall too far from the tree after all”. At age 84, my father-inlaw shows up early to all events, even when it is obvious that the event will start four hours late. So when my husband makes us show up almost four hours ahead of our flight time, I know whose son he is.
As parents, we are the first example that our children follow but if they don’t find us worthy to follow, they look out, sometimes within but sometimes way out there. So be careful who you surround them with, when you tolerate certain personalities within your space, you indirectly endorse them, presenting their path as an alternative for your children to follow. I recall that a few years ago, I had someone with a questionable character in my home, as I shared my tales of woe with a senior friend, her words rang a big bell. She said to me, ‘If you cannot live with the consequences of the impact that this individual may have on your children, then you need to let them go’. In the emotional battle that raged within me, those words gave me the courage to do what I needed to do. Many times, we have consciously or unconsciously mortgaged our children’s future because of the convenience of retaining the familiar. We mask it in the words, ‘the devil I know is better than the angel I don’t know”. To that I will say, no ‘devil’ should have a place in your home, no matter how convenient or inconvenient it will be to you. As a rule of thumb, always do right by your children. I have found that all the other balls that you juggle in life always find a way to bounced back when dropped (work, church etc) but the consequences of dropping the family ball always comes with far-reaching consequences. So prioritize the children always.
‘Showing them the way’ is the easiest parenting style, if you want them to be kind and respectful, be kind and respectful yourself. Children only do what they know, and they only know what they know from what they see or watch, they only watch or see what is shown to them. Children hear what you do, not what you say, so watch what you do. I recall a time when my husband was watching one of the Avenger movies and my four-year-old daughter walked in on a fighting scene and said, “Daddy, why are you watching the devil?” We were both confused by her question and then she reminded us what we told her earlier. Apparently, in one of our dramatic parenting moments, we must have told her that only the devil fights. So for her, the sight of people fighting equals watching the devil. At that moment, we knew that more than our words, the things they see us do is the bigger message. We haven’t stopped watching Avengers but we are more sensitive about time and place.
We pray that our whole life will point our children daily to Jesus.
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