If only there was a way to figure out this thing called parenting? One minute, you feel like you are making progress, and then one minute later, you are wondering if anyone is ever paying attention to anything you say. Between the highs and lows of parenting, we are tempted to think we are failing or making very little impact on our kids. However, I’m learning to realize that I’m always making an impact as a parent. Even in the seemingly small things I do, I’m setting an example that my kids my very well decide to follow.
As parents, we are given the challenge of rising above our emotions and showing our kids how to respond to life based off wisdom and discernment rather than how we feel in the moment. This is easier said than done, and basically impossible without the strength of God through the Holy Spirit, but it’s something we must keep in mind as we live life in front of our kids.
I came across the article I’ve copied below from a website called UnCommen. We use some of their resources to encourage men and dads in our church, but whether you’re a mom, dad, or grandparent, I think the words of this article will both challenge and inspire you to be pay more attention to the everyday stuff of life.
ARTICLE EXCERPT FROM UNCOMMEN: Your Kids Learn In The Details
The older I get, the more I am amazed at how my grown children mimicked my attitudes when they were young. I’ll never forget what my daughter told me about how I influenced her eating habits.
When she was young, I didn’t tell her that she had to eat everything on her plate, but if she didn’t eat it, I ate it. The subliminal message was that if she didn’t eat it, the food would be taken from her; hence she learned the same lesson that I learned when I grew up.
My parents made me clean my plate, and to this day I find it difficult to leave food uneaten on the plate. She can’t leave food on her plate, because the underlying attitude is the same; eat it, or there will be consequences. I didn’t make her eat everything on her plate, but I taught her to eat everything on her plate or else. My eating disorder became her problem because she picked up on my attitude, not necessarily my words. I am still embarrassed by the food lesson when we joke about it as mature adults.
What attitude did my kids pick up from me as a hard-driving businessman? Of course, I wanted them to learn a good work ethic through my example, but the underlying message as a parent many times was my love for them was conditional. If they performed well in school and worked hard, then I was proud of them. If they didn’t perform well, I was disappointed, not only in their actions but also in them. It’s a subtle message.
In my opinion, the one area that has had the most impact on our kids’ lives was the relationship between my wife and I. How did we cope with conflict? Could they see that we loved each other? Was the attitude between us open, honest and forthright without being critical? Did Christ make a difference or were we going through the motions? I had to continually check my attitude to make sure it was founded in my faith.
We loved each other, and Christ put meaning to that, but how were we dealing with the bumps and bruises of life? Despite the financial issues, the illnesses, the moves, the constant barrage of responsibilities, the sexual temptations and the arguments, we stayed faithful to each other and put God at the center. That sounds like a cliché, but during those difficult times you get on your knees, give Him a moment and then the next moment and the next and finally you get through it. You become stronger, yet humbler and your love for each other grows. The kids didn’t know the stress, but they saw how we dealt with it and how Christ was real in almost every situation.