One evening as I was cooking dinner, my girls were watching and trying to assist in the best way they know how- as sensory scientists a.k.a. food tasters! I stood there slicing some rainbow carrots when suddenly my oldest looked at me and smiled, “Mommy I want to be just like you when I grow up”. Awe… the words every mom longs to hear. The hallelujah chorus was ringing in my ears. I smiled back, stopped what I was doing and gave her a big hug and kiss. “What was that for?” she giggled. “ I just love you soo much”, I replied and she went on to continue chomping away on a carrot, looking like Bugs Bunny, all the while asking me why it was purple, lol.
As mom’s we have so much influence on our children’s lives. Both positive and negative. When we show love and kindness to those around us, they are likely to do the same. When we are unforgiving, bitter or angry, they notice and may tend to be unforgiving and angry towards others as well. Whether you grew up in a home full of love, an abusive family or a home where your parents where not around all together, the way they raised you, whether they did or not, shaped who you are today in on way or another.
When you examine your own background do your children see the hurt you carry within you from your own childhood? Do they see someone who despite the hurt and pain is strong, loving and compassionate rather than distrustful and unforgiving? Whatever hurts may have happened in the past it is important not to allow the negative effects they have had on our lives do the same to our children. We have the power to be the generation to break the paradigm and create one that will hopefully be instilled not only in our children’s lives but our grandchildren and great grandchildren as well.
“Shepard the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” -1 Peter 5:2-4 (NKJV)
We all have been wounded by our past in one way or another. Some cuts deeper than others. We all have scars. Rather than looking at our scars as a reminder of the pain let us regard them as a indication of healing. God works everything for our good (Romans 8:28). Our damaged pasts can help us teach our children to learn from our mistakes, instruct them as they grow up and become a parent who decides despite everything from their own childhood, whether good or bad, they will exceed to surpass their own parents guidance.
The first step to becoming an admirable example to our children is to develop our character into a character like Christ’s. We will never be perfect. We will fail. We will never be like Christ no matter how hard we try, nevertheless he does counsel us to try our best.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”. -Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV)
One of the most culminating ways to be an exemplary example to our children is simply to live out the fruits of the spirit. Below are a few simple ideas for each one:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, self-control. Against such there is no law”.-Galations 5:22-23 (NKJV)
There are so many ways to illustrate love to our children. I will write another post later all about showing love to our spouses and children’s love languages. (Read Gary Chapman’s Book, The 5 Love Languages, if you haven’t already, its great!)
- Read a bedtime story each night
- Leave them little notes, telling them how much you love them.
- Play with them ( You can play with your kids at any age, dolls or legos when they’re younger; playing basketball, volleyball, or any other sport they enjoy when they are older).
- This is slightly similar to playing with them, but participate and enjoy some of the same hobbies and activities they enjoy.
- Cuddle them close, love, and hold them.
We may not always feel “happy”. We’ve all heard the saying happiness is a choice, but the truth is, happiness is just that-a feeling. Joy is the choice. When we choose joy we are choosing to be at peace and content with whatever the circumstances may be. No one can ever steal your Joy, especially when it is in Christ, and Christ alone.
- Instill joy in our children’s lives by having them come up with things God has done for them and they are thankful for, either at the breakfast table, bedtime or both :).
- Teach them what joy means and how praying and reading your bible make it easier to receive joy.
- Live out joy in our own daily lives, when we are down let us not overspend and fill our lives with more things, over/under eat, shut people out, turn to addictions or turn to entertainment; but let us go to the one who gives a joy in every situation. Our children will see our example above all and will learn to live out joy in their own lives. When we are filled with joy it is much easier to be at peace. The kind of peace only God can give.
3.) Kindness/Goodness/Longsuffering (Patience)
Kindness and goodness should be two of the easiest examples but sometimes life gets the best of us, people irritate us or hurt us and its easy to lash out or treat them unkindly and reciprocate. Displaying patience when chaos arises, especially when caused by those around us speaks volume to our children and encourages them to do the same.
- Forgiving those who have hurt us, embolden our children to do the same, notably when it is difficult.
- Baking something delicious and taking it to someone just to say I’m thinking of you.
- Cooking dinner or helping out with house/yard work for someone who is sick, in need or going through a rough patch.
- Writing a letter/sending a card to show you care.
- Getting involved and participating at church events, functions or any other ways your church offers areas to serve.
- Be aware of the way you talk and treat others-our children will learn to do the same.
Sometimes it is so difficult to execute self control. One moment you think you finally have the hang of it and the next someone cuts you off in the intersection and your tailgating them all the way home enraged. It is far easier to demonstrate self control with God’s help. We will always fail on our own.
- When someone does treat us poorly on the road, take a deep breath and say a little prayer for yourself and the person who wronged you.
- When in a disagreement especially in front our our kids, keep your voice calm and listen. If needed pause the conversation until you are able to keep your cool and become level-headed.
- Only eat one or two, maybe three cookies-not the whole box 😉 (GUILTY!).
- Take on activities that build self discipline and inspire your children to do the same.
- Be responsible with money and teach your children to do the same, allowances and saving are always great techniques if you are able to do so.
I pray no matter the circumstances in our past, that they will not continue to burden us in our present or future, nor become the future for our children. Help us to be a Christ-like example to them. Help us and our children to live lives that will glorify, honor and serve you. Guide us to break the generational sin in our families and to receive your blessings on ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. Please equip us with your fruit of the spirit. Work within us. Thank you for all you do for us Father. In your precious name we pray.