Today I had the privilege of taking my youngest daughter with me to chauffeur her brother around for the day. I was blessed with her ability to communicate so well even at a young age. Her comments and laughter brightened my day. I liked watching her little legs run and hop around when waiting for her big brother to finish drum lessons. At the same time, I noticed her stubborn behavior, her fear of strangers and the unknown, and her loud barks of anger when she didn't get her way. My family might laugh as they recall my anger when I threw my golf club at mini golf because I didn't get my way.
Yesterday I had the joy of dating my son. He was a gentlemen- he held doors, took the cart back, carried bags. I was delighted with his enthusiasm and willingness to lend a helping hand to those in need. At the same time I noticed how sometimes he whined too much or manipulated a situation to try and get something in his favor. My family might laugh at this too as they recall my many days of whining and manipulating.
Two days ago I was picking up my daughter from Summer Care. She had been having a wonderful time. After working all day, I couldn't wait to see her bright blue eyes, beautiful smile, and hear her laughter. At the same time, I noticed her being very independent and not accepting help from anyone else. I noticed her trying to do everything on her own with her own willpower. She had to grab all of her bags herself. Again, my family would laugh because we have a family joke of me always carrying all of the bags myself and never letting anyone help.
During this last moment when at school, I commented to a fellow teacher how my daughter was just so independent. In his good-natured way, he smiled warmly and said, "isn't it neat to see how our children inherit some of our great characteristics?"
And, I replied, "yes, but sadly all too often, I see them mimicking my sinful nature." I didn't necessarily see the independence as a good characteristic. I saw the potential for self-reliance rather than reliance on God...for control rather than giving control to God in faith.
You see, I am very grateful for the good I see in my children, and the beauty they exhibit. They bring me so much joy. Yet, I am saddened by the fact that my own sins, my own struggles so easily become their sin and their struggles. I want to keep them from these sins. I believe it is important that I encourage the good behaviors and work diligently to gently remind them of the habits they need to improve. At the same time, I need to be working on my own attitude and my own habits to set an example for these children I so adore. I think it is easy for me to discipline my children (always wanting them to be perfect), but I don't always remember my own self-discipline. The truth is they learn more from my actions than from what I say. The fact that I see them acting out at times with all too familiar poor behaviors probably means they have recently seen me respond in a similar manner. Even scripture supports that we often inherit the sins of our fathers (Exodus 20:5, Deuteronomy 5:9). Maybe in order to break from some of those sins, I should spend more time focusing on my own actions both in the home and with other people in public.
In light of all of this, I may need to lighten up a little on expecting these little ones to be perfect all of the time and recognize that God has given them many of our great qualities too. I need to be sure I am commending and praising their good works. That I am encouraging them to use their characteristics in ways that will serve others and bring joy to life. Who knows what incredible opportunities the praise will evoke?