Ah, the imperfect and surprising task of mothering. This morning I got to thinking about how my behavior is telling my son how to do life.
Let’s face it, kids in general are little clones of who we are. In my family we have a running saying: my Grandma Rosie is the “original” Rosie. My mom is Rosie Light, and my sister and I are Rosie Extra Light. The lesson here is that even when your parents annoy you, you are probably doing the same things yourself whether you realize it or not.
Why People Are Selfish
My personal assessment of people with bad behavior or uncontrollable habits is that they never learned to say no to themselves, and by extension you can deduce that their parents had a hard time saying no to them when they were little kids. If a person never learns to say “no” to themselves, it’s only a matter of time before that life snowballs out of control. I know. I’ve snowballed on a couple of occasions because of this phenomenon: inability to refuse myself something I want.
Now that I’m a mom, it’s not such a leap to realize that I’m having a hard time saying no to my adorable little toddler. It’s also not hard to see that when I let him do whatever he wants, I’m not helping him. For my son to be confident and self-controlled, I need to be strong and disciplined.
It is amazing to me how many kids are so much like their parents. I knew a girl in middle school who talked about her mom and swore to me that she would never be like her. I see her once in a while and it’s like her mother has been cloned. Every time I see her I think of how she told me she wouldn’t turn out like her mom, and I admit that I observe this phenomenon everywhere I go. The conclusion to draw from this is: your kids will end up just like you when they’re older, whether they want to or not.
What Your Child Will Become
Do you want your girls to be confident, self-aware and strong? Do you want your boys to be gentlemen, polite and respectful to women? Mom (and to varying degrees, Dad) is the one in charge of making them turn out that way, not by telling them what to do or how to behave. All that is pretty much moot if they are faced with a role model of insecurities and weaknesses day in and day out.
I want my boy be confident in who he is rather than proud of what he’s done. I want him to succeed not because he’s pursuing material things, power or influence. I want him to have everything, and be a leader and an influence because it is his nature – who he is. Am I the role model he needs to become this man? My pursuits and discipline should reflect exactly what I want to see in my son when he’s all grown up.
Do you want your children to grow up with a foundation of TV, cell phones, computer gaming? Or do you want them to immerse themselves in Bible reading, praying, serving in church, pursuing excellence, caring about others, giving selflessly? These are the things we need to be doing to become the person God created us to be – to have a relationship with Jesus and live a meaningful life. If we’re not doing them, it is hard to expect our kids to care about Jesus, church or the Bible. Let alone other people or their own life’s discipline.
How to Make The Change
I will be the first to say that I’m not perfect and it’s time to take some solid steps toward improvement. Foundations for discipline have to be laid before I can expect to change my behavior with sheer willpower. If discipline and strength are not who I am, I will fail when I try to do anything requiring tenacity.
Becoming super woman is not easy, but it is possible. Giving our best efforts to the Lord, and getting back into prayerful habits and reading our Bible is a start. These things are good, but they won’t change anything unless our first desire is to know God. The hardest thing to do for any Christian is desiring the Giver before the gifts, but you will not be disappointed. As the relationship grows, good habits become a part of you. You want to be in the Word, you want to give to others, you want to pursue excellence in yourself because you’re simply fulfilling your purpose. You become faithful in parenting, marriage and even managing your finances.
Being the principle influence on my son doesn’t have to freak me out. Seeking the Lord is the single most fulfilling activity a person can do, and when we do this with a heart to know God all we are doing is transforming our lives into the lives that were always meant to be. Imagine going through a tragedy with strength and faith while your children are watching. Imagine going through financial hardship and faithfully working toward financial freedom while your kids are watching. Imagine your great success and your children watching you demonstrate great generosity. Imagine living a life worthy of the King while your kids are watching.
I recently had a conversation with a friend who also experienced the earthquakes in Mexico. She wasn’t scared, she said. She realized that God wouldn’t take her yet because she didn’t “have enough crowns.” He was reminding her, giving her another chance to pursue her worth, her purpose: Him.
Pursue your crowns, and your children will follow with many more.