As I was scanning my Pinterest home feed I came across this quote:
“Based on how you spoke to (or about) your husband, today, what did you teach your son to look for in a wife?” – Matthew L. Jacobson.
After reading it, I immediately stopped and reflected. I honestly in that moment didn’t know if I was happy with the image I’ve been painting for my son, specifically what I wanted him to look for in a wife. Of course, I could go on and on about the characteristics of a good wife and what I’d hope he’d find in his future spouse. Still nothing can outweigh the constant display I’ve put before my son day after day. Whether I like it or not, I’m defining and creating for him a perception of what a wife is and what he may look for when he’s searching for her.
Have I forgotten how much my children are like sponges? Have I forgotten I was being watched?
In the early years of our children’s lives their ability to soak up everything we say and do is remarkable. We marvel and playfully entice them to repeat what we say. We fill our phones with videos and bask in the memories of how adorable they were when they followed suit. With pride we shared with friends and family the mimicked words, responses or actions. Yet somewhere it seems we lose sight of the fact our “mini me’s” are watching us; because we go about life expecting them to do what we say and not as we do. God help us!
In the photo above, my son was watching some men practice for a Mother's Day performance. In a matter of minutes, he picked up the routine and stole the heart of the crowd on the day of the performance.
I know I’ve been guilty of trying to explain to my son the importance of tenderheartedness, being selfless, or walking in love; only for me to turn around and give an example of the exact opposite. I know because he catches me and references scripture if I’m off beat. Our children will hold us accountable if we let them! The formative years of our children are literally spent on trying to imitate us in speech, gestures, emotional expressions, reactions, etc. Along with our languages and expressions, they’re truly getting to know the definition of humanity based on what we display for them. We’re defining and giving snapshots of what kindness, love, courtesy, compassion is, along with every other attribute. They watch how we handle heartache, frustrations, victories, disappointments, surprises, relationships, conflict, business transactions, how we value education and even how we manage the stages of life we go through as an adult. Is there anyone else who has a full view of our lives other than our children? Who else has a better seat in the theater of our lives watching every move we make? No one more fitting than our children have a perfect gaze into our lives and we’re defining life for them.
Surprisingly, God intended our children to learn from how we live. He gave us clear instruction to be living examples to them. In Titus 2:7 (NLT) it says: “And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.” God wants us to be an example to show the earnestness and honesty of what we are teaching them. If I tell my son to pray before he eats, but he never sees me pray before my meals, or if I never pray with him at mealtime, he will question its importance. The thought will more than likely cross his mind: “If it’s not important enough for my Mom or Dad to do it, then why should I?”
In his young mind, he will find it very hard to do the right thing, if his biggest role models are not doing it.
In the book of Genesis chapter 22, God instructs Abraham to offer his son, Isaac as a sacrifice. First off, I can’t imagine a greater test as a parent, than to sacrifice your son’s life. Even though the scriptures do not specifically describe the countenance of Abraham, it does share his conversations. From the verbal exchanges Abraham had with his servants and son, it would seem they knew nothing about the requested sacrifice of Isaac. Here in scripture we see an example of great faith. Abraham’s faith gave him confidence in knowing God would honor his promise (Hebrews 11)-that he would have a son and be a father to many. Isaac had an incredible view of a life defining great faith through his father’s confidence in God. It was a lesson Isaac would never forget it. He witnessed his father’s love for God, his father’s obedience, and trust in God. Abraham was a remarkable living example to his son and to the generations that came after him. We need to examine ourselves. What kind of example are we setting for our children? Where are we leading them? What are we raising them to become?
About a year ago, I mentioned to a group of ladies I’ve been mentoring, “So many parents are training, raising, and leading their children to become professional athletes, amazing scholars or the ‘next big thing’. I question how many parents are actually raising their children to be prayer warriors, worshipers and men/women of God’s word? How many are raising their children in character, so when they rise to the top, they don’t fall to temptation? There’s nothing wrong with success in athleticism or talent, but if our children do not have a proper foundation, we’re setting them up to fall.”
We already know God has called us to teach our children. Yet God’s way of teaching our children requires a lifestyle and not only seizing a few “teachable moments”. We’re bringing the word of God to life for our children. By applying it in our lives, we’re providing a clear interpretation of the word of God for them.
One of my favorite passages of scriptures that challenges me to be a better mom is Deuteronomy 11:18-21 “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 19 Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.” God takes parenting very seriously and He holds parents accountable to teach their children about Him and His Word. God knows we’re bombarded with all sorts of distractions. He knows the value of the home, family and parenthood. If we build a solid foundation for our children spiritually, morally and emotionally, they’ll thrive in a decaying world.
Understandably God knows we’ll make mistakes, but that’s where His grace and mercy comes in. Keep in mind not to be overly critical of yourselves. It’s okay if our children see us struggle in the process. It’s more important for them to see us strive toward the mark, and miss it a few times, then to never see us attempt at hitting it at all. Especially if we take the time to explain our actions. For example: “I really have a lot of things to do today. Rather than rushing to get them done, I’m going to stop and pray first. I don’t want to make the mistake I did yesterday and forget to take the time to pray. I was grumpy and stressed all day.” I found other useful examples at 50 Ways to Be a Great Example to a Child. Michele Borba, the author, lists wonderful ways we can be intentional when teaching our children about our actions.
Let’s live what we expect our children to do and become. Remember they’re watching us! Don’t be surprised to know they may not be the only ones watching. A coworker, relative, even your child’s friend may see you as a role model. Let’s steer them in the right direction.
Luke 17:2 “It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin”