Children are like little sponges. They soak up everything around them. Children have a way of taking things in differently than adults. They can be molded and shaped. Whatever is in their environment, good or bad, will have a lasting effect on them for years to come. That is why it’s very important to be mindful of what you expose your children to. I often tell my kids how beautiful they are, and my oldest will randomly tell me I’m beautiful even when my hair is a complete mess and I’m staggering out of bed in mismatched pajamas.
Whatever you do in moderation, your children will do in excess. Think for a moment about when your child has done or said something that threw you off because it was like they were mimicking you. More than likely they were. Sometimes they say a word you say all the time, but you don’t allow them to say.
Children do as you do and not do as you say. They learn by your actions sometimes a lot more than by your words. How to act, treat people, and even respond to certain situations are things you teach your kids by your own behavior.
My kids have a no eating in the bedroom rule. Once, I decided to take my dinner into my room. My kids had already eaten, and I was tired and just wanted to eat and watch TV in bed. My daughter gave me a look of disapproval and told me I’m not allowed to eat in my room, and I should know better. Nothing like a disappointed 4-year-old to give you some conviction.
As a believer in Christ, it seems hard to get it all right. I sometimes find it challenging to be Christ-like when disciplining my kids or handling stress on days I feel overwhelmed. Many parents in general, strive to be perfect, and they want their kids to see how hard they are trying to make sure everything is OK. The truth is, we all mess up on occasion. I have to keep reminding myself no matter how hard I try, I’ll never achieve perfection so I might as well just aim to have a good relationship with my children and go from there.
Often, while trying to raise children using faith-based principles, it is easy to forget we must also practice them ourselves.
Teaching your kids about love and the fruits of the spirit is one way to shape their little minds. If I teach my children that love is kind and patient but yell at them for making a mess at the dinner table, that might cause them to question the contrast of my words versus my actions. Likewise, if I take my kids to church and want them to be excited about going, I can’t grumble under my breath about how sometimes I’d rather be at the beach than at church.
I go to church at least twice a week, and my kids go to their kid-zone classrooms while I’m at service. Sometimes they complain, but I show them how excited I am to be learning about God, and they get excited, too. I don’t want them to see church as a punishment. When I was very young, my mother sent my twin and me to Sunday school, and then we’d walk home because she wasn’t attending church. I used to be so upset because I couldn’t understand why we had to go if she wasn’t. Granted, she read the Bible to us and spoke about God often, but it was just hard to want to be at church on the days my mother didn’t go.
I’ve learned a child’s first faith connection will come through their parents. The way a child is shown a living example of what the Bible teaches—how you as a parent actually want to be in the house of the Lord without it seeming like a burden—will give your children a solid foundation in faith. The goal isn’t to be perfect but to practice what you preach in a loving and inviting way. The last thing I want as a parent is to feel like my actions contradict the morals and values I wish to instill in my little ones.
On the crazy days, I always remember never to beat myself up when my kids act outside of what I’ve taught them but redirect them with love and understanding. Jesus was patient even with the people who continued to go against him.
Your children can get a glimpse of God’s love through you and that will leave a lasting impact on them forever.