7/9/08

Little Eyes, Ever Watching

A maxim well-applied to parenting is, “Your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear a word you’re saying.” Children are all eyes. They observe parents and imitate what is modeled, even if the example is unintended. When parents least expect it, children take note and internalize what they see. This should be a powerful motivator. Little eyes are ever watching, and parents are the child’s first teachers.

A youth pastor once told his youth group members to point to their noses. The only problem was, he pointed to his own chin. The teens also pointed to their chins. What we do is indeed more powerful than what we say, and this is especially true with small children.

Children might hear what we say, but they will respond to what we do, mirroring our actions. We must be careful that our actions line up with God’s truth and our most treasured beliefs and values.

This isn’t just an option for the Christian parent. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 talks about the extent of our example in teaching about God and His Word—wherever we are, and at all times of the day. In The Message, these verses include a powerful admonition: “Get them [God’s laws] inside of you and then get them inside your children.” Del Fehsenfeld, Jr., the founder of Life Action Ministries, used to tell parents that their values were better “caught” than taught, because children are eager sponges, absorbing the truths that we most cherish as evidenced by our actions. Clearly, parents’ choices are not made in a vacuum.

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