The truth is that your children are going to be a lot like you. For better or for worse, they will follow the patterns you set before them. You are the model in whose image your children will be shaped in their most formative years. You need to be who you want them to be.
Geez. How scary/convicting is that?
That's from a study I've been doing called Effective Parenting in a Defective World by Chip Ingram. The first section that talks about modeling absolutely floored me, and I went back and read it several days in a row. Do we really ponder that our kids are essentially growing in our likeness? Of course I want him to be like me in some ways, in all the ways I like myself. But I think we all tend to picture our kids conveniently without the flaws we really don't want to think about in our own lives.
*Side note - I was floored by reading the study, and then Isaac and I watched a DVD talk of the same section. I could barely pay attention at all, and Isaac was riveted and just as convicted as I had been by the reading. SUCH different learning styles.
I mean, really. Do I want Judah to talk the way I talk? Do I want him to drive the way I drive, eat and drink like me, watch the shows I watch, handle money like me, balance work and rest the way I do, and handle anger and suffering the way I do? Is the way I worship, pray, steward, give, and love the way I want Judah to be?
At least, not to all those thing.
And if that's true, that I want him to be different than me, then I need to identify the areas that I want him to be different then me and I need to learn to be different.
The truth is that the more or less passionately I follow Christ, the more or less passionately Judah will most likely follow Christ.
Chip gives hope as well, though, because the point is not to spiral into some, "I'm not a good enough parent/person" pattern. None of us will ever be perfect, nor will our children. One of the very best things that we can model and teach our kids is what to do with failure and mistakes. Our kids need to see how a godly person handles it when they blow it, because those kids will certainly blow it too. In Chip's words, "When children see change in their parents, it gives them hope that their failures aren't final either."
Authenticity is the goal. I need to demonstrate in my own life what it means to repent, confess, humbly accept responsibility for mistakes, and ask for forgiveness. Do I do that? Or do I avoid facing my mistakes or being confronted, rationalize how and why it all happened, and hope everyone forgets about it? Do I model what it is to actually change and grow?
I've been sitting back and thinking a lot the past few weeks about the things that I really don't want Judah to learn from me - because those are things I really need to work on in my own life.
For instance - I have struggled with some odd blend of introversion, social awkwardness, and insecurity in crowds and with new people. And, lets be honest, sometimes just with anyone. I don't care what social group or personality my kid ends up with, but I want him to be at ease with himself. The thing is, it's not the awkwardness that is the problem. It's the self-focus. If I enter a room and am consumed by thoughts of how I appear, what people think of me, what I need to say next or who to talk to, it's an entirely self-focused internal dialogue. Sad. I want Judah.... and me.... to enter a room and see others. If I and/or he are introverted, that's fine. But introverted and in loving focus on the people around.... that's the goal.
I want us to go from being mediocre stewards of money to really excellent stewards of money who are proactive rather than reactive in our finances.
I want him to be confident enough that he is willing to be the bad guy when it is called for, even when it means people won't like him.
Am I willing to change?