I often ask myself how can I teach our son certain behaviors? How can I make sure that these behaviors become habits? So ingrained and part of him that when life squeezes him, this is what will come out.
What comes out when you are squeezed?
When I was in Bible School, my lecturers used to talk about what is inside us. They would ask what would come out if we were squeezed like a sponge. Have you ever noticed how you can have a sponge on the side of your sink and it can look new and nice but when you touch it, it is actually wet? The water coming out is normally dirty dish water- especially if the children did the dishes! That’s what habits are like.
So, what comes out when life squeezes you and times are tough? When you hit your thumb with the hammer? Or when a taxi swerves in front of you in heavy traffic? Or when someone is sick? Or there are financial difficulties? Or when the someone treats your child unfairly at school? Is it anger? Do you swear? Do you become impatient? Do you despair?
Looking in a mirror
I have noticed that children are like those sponges that we spoke about earlier. They soak up everything we say and do, our habits. And don’t ask me why but somehow they seem to retain the negative and the ugly much better than the positive! So, if you want to know what is happening inside yourself, watch your children. You might be in for a pleasant, or not so pleasant, surprise.
It is as if you are looking in a mirror when you look at your children. Remember, children mainly reflect what they see. So, what do they see? Do they see someone who exercises self-control? Do they see someone who is patient and kind? Or do they see someone who loses their temper for even the smallest excuse?
This brings me back to my question right at the beginning… how do l teach our son things that I want to be as natural as breathing? For example, how do I teach our son to have a relationship with God?
I have to model it. I have to live daily what I want to see in my son. Paul says in I Corinthians 11:1: “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” This is the crux of the matter: if you expect certain behaviours from your child, you have to model those behaviours. This must be true modelling, not a pretend, or a once off demonstration. Children have a way to capture the heart of what we are doing and somehow that is what they reflect back to us.
This became very clear to me a few years ago while I was praying with our son. He started confirming everything I was praying. After just about every sentence I was praying, there would be a”yes” or an “amen” coming from his side. It was so cute but it sounded just like my mom! What I couldn’t understand is that there has never really been the opportunity to pray together like that for the two of them. So where on earth did he pick this up? Then it hit me… I must sound like that. I mimic my mom and my son mimics me! Two generations of a modeled and learned behavior.
But honestly, when I realised this it also scared the living daylights out of me. I realised the responsibility that rests on me to to live uprightly before our son. If I want him to pray, he must see me praying. If I want him to have a relationship with God, then he must see that I have one. If I want him to know that God is always there for him and that he can talk to God at any time, he needs to see it in my life.
It does not stop with the big things though. The little ones are just as important. I want my son to have good table manners. How are mine? I want my son to be neat. How am I? I want my child to be organised. Am I organised? I want my child to be well-groomed. How am I? I want my child to be disciplined. But am I disciplined?
“You are thie light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:14 – 16.
I have some nasty habits that I have to work on. One is the side of my bed! I always chuck my books and things that I am busy with down there and do not remove it faithfully. Funnily enough, this is one of the things that I regularly have to ask our son to tidy up… the side of his bed‼ What are some habits that you need to change?
Hamer image by Andy Gries from Pixabay Ballet image by Evgen Rom from Pixabay Mess image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay