Imagine that you’ve just gotten off of an airplane in a different part of the world that you’ve never experienced. All of the people, things, places, that you encountered were a new adventure waiting to be explored. That’s as close as we can get to understanding what it’s like to be your child. They come into this world as a blank slate and everything they experience is a new impression on them.
Think for a few minutes with me about how your child sees the world. Can you imagine going back to the days when almost everything was a new learning experience? How did you figure it out? Mom and Dad. Your job as their parent is to teach your children what you want them to know. You teach them the names of things, how things are used, what sounds they make, and what is safe and what is not. They learn from you what things to eat and drink and what things to play with and avoid. They learn what appropriate language is and, if you use it, what inappropriate language is. Are you actively showing your child the differences?
Your children learn how to behave from you. Your kids see how you treat others, how you spend your time, your habits and mannerisms, and the way you talk. They learn emotion from what they see. Your child sees what it is like to be happy, sad, angry, excited, bored, and so forth. They learn what it means to be patient and when enough patience has been extended. They also learn how to hate from you, and how to love from you. Do you exhibit love, care, and compassion for others, or does your child see discord, conflict, and anger?
Your children learn relationships from you. It begins with your relationship with them, extends in the home to your relationship with your spouse and other children, and outside of the home to friends and family. Are you nurturing those relationships and giving them the time and attention that they deserve? They learn what it means to be selfish and to be giving from you. Which of these does your child see most?
Your child also gets morals and ethics from you; that is, you become their guiding compass. They pick up on right from wrong. They learn what hard work is supposed to look like. What you believe becomes what they believe; that includes religion and spirituality. Parents have been known to say they will let their child decide these things for themselves – is that really the responsible thing to do? Or, is it an excuse not to take them to church? If you don’t teach morals, ethics, values, and beliefs to them, there is a world full of people waiting to teach them. Do you want to leave it in their hands?
You are larger than life to your child. You are their whole world, and your responsibility for them is an awesome one. Be intentional in teaching and training them. Don’t leave it to chance that they will pick up the right things from the rest of the world.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (King James Version)
Application Question – Do you just assume that your children are learning the right things from you, or are you being intentional about it? Do you want them to see the real you or the you that others talk about?