I am an avid reader. I find myself drawn on numerous occasions to the self-help articles you find in magazines and on social media. Now, I’m not talking about articles like “5 Moves to Get Rid of those Love Handles” or “How to Be a Morning Person” (Believe me, I’ve tried everything and I’ve come to the realization that being a morning person must not be God’s plan for me). Despite the fact that these articles have a way of grabbing our attention, I am more prone to information I can use to improve as a parent or advice that applies to my Christian walk. Although, don’t be surprised if you see me sitting in a Starbucks with a cup of coffee in one hand and a mystery novel in the other. Yes, I am a product of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series. But, I say all this because my heart’s desire is to be more like Christ and so I cherish the advice I find from people who have ‘been there before’. I love reading articles from parents who have walked the path of teenage angst with their children and can offer some well-grounded advice on maintaining my sanity during those years. So when I came across an article about things our children learn from us as parents, I knew I needed to read it. And boy was it convicting.
As parents, I know our desire is to be the best role model and influence to our children. We have our mental to-do lists and store away tidbits of wisdom for times when a situation arises. But one thing we don’t know or maybe we don’t always remember is that kids learn more from observing us than from what we tell them on a day to day basis. So, let me share with you a couple pearls of wisdom from this article.
1. Children learn more than we teach them. As a conscientious parent we focus our child-training program on such practical things as, “how to walk on two feet,” “how to speak the English language” and, in the spirit of generosity, “to graciously share one’s toys with others.” Later, in Advanced Parenting, we taught “bicycle riding,” “mowing the lawn” and “how to drive the family automobile.” Things did not always go well. But more important, we know that our children were learning far more us than from our practical list of “do’s and don’ts” on how to do things. To our amazement, they were literally absorbing our life patterns. They were learning to live by the way we lived. How do we know this? When we look at the life patterns of our children, we see an amazing resemblance to the life patterns of us as parents. Quite frankly, it is scary when we realize that what we teach formally to our children is but a fraction of what they really learn from us. That is consistent with that valuable parenting lesson in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy where the writer talks about the principles of loving God. He wrote, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7 NKJV). There is just no question about it – the lessons of informal learning in our household will have a greater life-long impact than our formal school of “do’s and don’ts”. Please don’t misunderstand. Our family school of “do’s and don’ts” is necessary. The point is that there is a powerful informal family training program in every house that most parents simply are not aware of. All of this, of course, applies to the school our children attend. The character and the lifestyle of our children’s teachers become “living curriculum” to our children. Our youngsters will retain more from the life patterns of their teachers than they will from the academic content of what their teachers teach. Amazing, isn’t it? The Bible says, “A student, when fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
2. Parents are their children’s number one educator. We need to thank God for the quality Christian school teachers who teach our children. Children benefit greatly from inspired, inspiring, professional teachers who accelerate their learning process. They broaden and balance a child’s education. But life’s major lessons are taught by parents. Chuck Swindoll said, “Home is where life makes up its mind.” We might think of it this way: Our “mom and dad school” is an “attitude factory”. We have positive and negative attitudes about many things. Like it or not, our children are learning our full repertoire of attitudes; our attitudes about God, family, government, church relationships, money, leisure, work, authority, education, health and life in general. The number one molder and shaper of attitudes is our very own “mom and day school of attitudes.” Our children are “reading us” on every issue, and they are formulating their own set of values and attitudes by what they see lived out before them on a daily basis.
Like I said, this article was convicting. To think that when we are in a check-out line and our children see us become impatient because the line just isn’t moving fast enough for us, they are filing that attitude away. When our child is in the other room and we are on the phone giving someone a piece of our mind, they are observing our attitude. When we don’t make God and His Word an important part of our life and our families lives, they are absorbing that attitude like a sponge. Humbling? Yes. Unrepairable? No.
We know that God is a God of new beginnings. If we find ourselves already in a pattern of bad “mom and dad attitude school” we know we can turn to the One who can make all things new. We need to earnestly seek wisdom from our Heavenly Father, the greatest Parent we will ever know, so that we can be the best parent we can be to our children. With God’s gracious help, raising our children to honor Christ and to honor us is possible, even in the anti-Christian culture of today, because we know that “with God all things are possible”.
(source: Christian School Comment, Volume 26, Issue 2)