Have you have stopped and listened to your children playing? I mean really listened. If you do I am sure that you will find they sound a lot like you. Children are probably the greatest imitators. They pick up on even the littlest of things that we do and say. As they are babies we are so proud to see them imitate. They learn to sit up, they eat at the table with us, they take their firsts steps, then they begin to talk. Those first few first words are so cute and we cherish them.
Imitation can be the cutest thing. I love seeing my daughter taking care of her babies, talking to them, feeding them. It is so cute to watch my sons driving their little trucks and tractors around “just like Daddy” does at work or the farm. They all love to play “house” and the many other day-to-day things that we do as a family. But then there will come something out of one of their mouths on occasion that completely surprises me. Most times though when I stop to think about it, it was probably something that I have said. I say things that in the moment seem harmless, but when I hear them repeated out of my child’s mouth it doesn’t sound so innocent. Or maybe it wasn’t what I said but how I said it. As parents we have to be so careful how we behave around our children. They see and hear more than I realize at times.
It can seem like such an undertaking. I can get overwhelmed just thinking about it. How can I always behave in a way that is worth imitating. It is a lot to know that you are most responsible for how your children act.
There are two things I have learned in this.
- One bad moment, one bad attitude, does not make a bad child and also does not make a bad parent.
Every time we see ourselves fail or see our children behave in a less than lovely way it is tempting to think that we have failed. That is not the truth, as long as we recognize our shortcomings and make an attempt to learn from them. Use those moments to teach our children. Grow from them ourselves. Only when we accept defeat and make no attempt to move forward have we failed.
- We have the best example ourselves to learn from. God is the most gracious Father.
He loves with unfailing love. He continues to pick us up and call out the best in us. I find that the more time I spend with the Lord the more I become like the Him and in turn the more I see of Him in my children. I cannot improve my children until I take care of myself. God calls us to be imitators of Him and we cannot do that if we do not know Him. Taking time to learn who Christ is and what He has done for us is the very best thing that we can do for our families.
Becoming an imitator of Christ and spending time with Him is going to look different for everyone. For me I most enjoy spending time in His Word in the morning. Unfortunately I do not usually get a lot of time then. My little ones are early risers and my day starts quickly. I do try get a least a few minutes. But for the most part my time with Lord is spent in little bits of time throughout the day. When I was young our pastor’s wife described it as “10 second prayers”. Taking those few moments to acknowledge the Lord throughout the day, talking to Him just as we would a friend. Also I enjoy worship music and you will often find it playing in my house. I connect with the Lord though that and it is something that I can do as I go about doing the other tasking that demand my attention. What I really love about that is I can do it with my children and it is something that I am proud of them imitating. Just as they pick up on the not so desirable things they will pick up and begin to imitate the good as well. There are few things that make me as happy as seeing my children worshiping the Lord and singing songs to Him, seeing them spend time with Him.
One more thing to think about; we are learning and growing just the same as our children are. As they imitate the things they see and hear and use that become who they are and the adults they will become, we also are shaping who we are by the things that leave an impression on us. Don’t take that lightly, because just as children we will begin to imitate the good and the bad, therefore shaping who are children are. If you ever want to really see what influences you just take a moment to watch and really listen to your children. They will show you with the most unhindered honesty.