It’s amazing the influence we as parents have over our children. They are with us day after day, hour after hour, moment by moment. Watching us, learning from us, seeing all the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly.
I realized just how much of an influence I have over my children when we were driving to piano lessons one week. My husband teases me about the way I say some words. Coupon is “que-pon”, pecan is “pee-cawn”, etc. I have no idea why I say them that way and it’s not a Canadian vs. American vs. British thing or anything. It is just the way those words roll off my tongue.
Anyway, back to driving. I wasn’t paying close attention and we missed our exit to get off the highway. JJ, from the back seat yells, “Hey mom! You missed the exit!”. Nothing spectacular about what he said, but it was the way he said it. I say “egg-zit”, just like that. And he said “egg-zit”, in exactly the same way. As I listened to two others echo him, they all said it the same way: “egg-zit”.
It struck me right then and there the power of a parent. What we say and do matters regularly matters. Our lives are a model for our children. We are the original, and in many ways, they are a carbon copy.
It’s plain as day when we see it in their attitudes, and realize it’s a reflection of the same things we struggle with. And inwardly we cringe.
But though they may mimic you and respond or react in many the same ways you do, be careful not to heap their sins upon your own pile.
As you are responsible to teach them right from wrong, to love them unconditionally, and to set a good example for them, they (and not you!) are still responsible for their own sins. The guilt is not yours to bear, but the burden of their training and discipling, upbringing, IS yours to bear – to the cross.
As much as it may pain you to see or hear the ways that your children behave, and realize they are similar to your own behaviours, don’t become discouraged. Take heart, and take the opportunity to pass on to them the measure of grace that God has given to you.
Draw them in, don’t push them away. Go after them, pursue them, as God pursues you. See yourself in them, not in a negative way, but knowing that God’s grace will abound still more.
Ann Voskamp writes in The Greatest Gift – “Your God looks for you when you’re feeling lost, and your God seeks you out when you’re down, and your God calls for you when you feel cast aside. He doesn’t run down the rebel. He doesn’t strike down the sinner. He doesn’t flog the failure.”
Recognize this great gift that you have been given as a parent – to bring these children up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). To impart the word of the Lord into their lives (Deuteronomy 6:7). To pray for them (Colossians 4:2), encourage and build them up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). To enjoy their company and yes, even learn from them (Colossians 3:16).
Do not grow weary while doing good – in due season you shall reap. And don’t be startled by their imitations of you. Be reminded. Laugh at the funny ones, deal with the ugly ones. Look for the joy and beauty of your influence beginning to take root, and pray God uses you in each others’ lives to be made more like him.