The old parenting joke in the 1950’s was, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Boxed in by the many catch 22’s of parenting, mothers and fathers wanted to issue the edicts but then have an escape hatch for themselves, a way to be the exception to every rule. Having been a parent for 39 years I get that. But the hard, cold truth of parenting is that our children and grandchildren end up doing as we do, not as we say.
While I’ve been the grandparent live-in at Katy and Hans’ home for a week, I’ve been impressed with the consistency and faithfulness they’ve demonstrated in their parenting. Being a good example is challenging, and as we see children copying us, the pressure to live well mounts. On the up side, it motivates us to “clean up our acts,” admitting that God is probably just using them to gently prod us to fix what needs fixing anyway.
Today I watched for specific teachings Katy and Hans were living out in front of their children. Since Hans had taken the day off, I got to watch them both. Katy emptied the toy bins with an eye to scaling down possessions, giving to the charity shop, and keeping their home well organized, all examples of good modeling.
Hans walked all 3 little ones (on their short legs) 4 blocks to and 4 blocks from the post-box to mail 2 letters, modeling togetherness, exercise, efficiency. Later the children lined up at the window “to watch Daddy work hard” rototilling the vegetable garden. Mommy simultaneously talked about the seeds the little ones could help plant in a few weeks, and the healthy vegetables they’d grow and eat.
Later she brought special toys from upstairs and played with the kids, setting up a mini-electric train, teaching sharing, taking turns and being gentle. She also disciplined unruly behavior and insisted on apologies.
At dinner good manners were encouraged (stop taking food from someone else’s plate, don’t throw food, say please). And at bath time, consideration of another’s wishes not to be splashed was important.
Other modeling included singing, praying, appreciating the kindness of others and lots more. Katy and Hans, along with many other young, hard-working parents I know, are making the most of opportunities to influence for good, exactly as God has encouraged them to do.
They do it out of love for their children and love for the Lord, not begrudgingly but with enthusiasm and good cheer. What they don’t know about today is that by their high quality modeling, they taught Grandma MeeMee a few things, too.
”Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)