I strive to do a lot of training on purpose…seizing teachable moments, talking with my daughters about situations they face, and encouraging them in their spiritual walk.
However, I’ve come to realize that there are three ways I am constantly training them, often without even realizing it.
1. By what I say. I don’t mean just what I say to them, though that is important. It is what I say about other people, what I say when I’m angry over a situation, what I say when a person cuts me off in traffic. It is also what I say in praising the Lord and in offering prayer and encouraging a friend in a conversation. My girls are always listening.
2. By what I do. We all know the old adage, “more is caught than taught.” Our children are much more likely to do what we do than to do what we say to do. I find that I need to ask myself, Am I living in a way that I want them to copy? Am I responsible and thoughtful and kind? Do my actions match up with what I say I believe?
3. By what I expect. Do I expect my children to pick up after themselves or do I do it for them? Do I expect them to treat their brothers and sisters with kindness or let them argue and call each other names? Do I expect them to help around the house, to come to a meal without complaining about what’s on the table? If I want them to develop a particular character trait, I need to tell them my expectation in that area and then find ways to encourage them to meet it.
We all have a heart for training our children to know, love, and serve God. Yet I’m beginning to realize afresh that how we live in front of them plays a large part in the training process.
It comes back to my own personal walk with Christ. If I’m spending time in prayer and Bible reading and meditating on truth from Scripture, then I’ll have a much better chance of saying, doing, and expecting what I should. And how thankful I am for God’s mercy, that will carry me through when I fail in this parenting journey yet again, and for His grace that can minister to my children, at times in spite of their mother!