Be Aware of Your Example
One of the books that I've read this year was Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People by Truett Cathy. The book was Truett's way of sharing his thoughts on business, how he built Chick-fil-a into a national brand, and how he treats people. In the book, Truett tells a story about a man who sat down next to him on a plane and inquired about how to keep his teenage kids on the straight and narrow. While he was listening to Truett, he ordered a beer. Truett asked if he drank beer in front of his kids and intimated the importance of the example set by this gentleman for his children.
One of the most common axioms in parenting today is, "More is caught than taught." Essentially, modern parenting stresses the fact that children are always watching, learning more about how to behave based on the behaviors of their parents than the actual words or lessons being shared with them. While it can be a daunting thought to consider that your children are learning mainly from your own example, it can also be the catalyst to make behavior changes that you've always wanted to make.
Many of us have added a few words to our vocabulary that we wish we hadn't. Along with these unsavory words have been developed some acceptable alternatives that amount to speaking nonsense, such as “heck” and “shoot." Yet, from time to time, a word that we wish we hadn't spoken comes first out of our mouths and then out of our children's. This attitude that you're constantly being observed might be the right motivation to get you to a point where you finally eliminate words that you don’t want from your vocabulary. The same goes for your TV, movie, and book choices. There's nothing wrong with a toddler watching a show not aimed at them, but you just might find yourself horrified at the thought of your child seeing the level of violence or sexuality on constant display in some of those programs.
As we start to make these changes, some of which are changes to behavior that have been ingrained in us for years, it's important for us to be reminded of the role that grace plays in our lives. We have to be patient with ourselves when we make mistakes. We also have to share that grace with our kids. Children need firm discipline, but not a tyrant. They need to have boundaries enforced, but also need to be smothered in love. When you make a mistake, give yourself a bit of grace, and if your child witnesses your mistake, explain to them why that was wrong. If your child makes a mistake, especially one learned from your behaviors, help them understand why that particular behavior isn't acceptable.
Parenting is a daily struggle on two fronts. We battle our own bad habits and we battle to rightly form an entirely new person. Be aware of the example you give and let grace cover your mistakes and those of your children.