Teaching by Example, part 2

My grandfather was a great influence on my life. I recall going shopping with him one Saturday. As he parked the car in a tight space, he bumped into the car in front of his, making a slight dent. He left a note with him phone number and a promise to pay for any damage. He could have just driven away, but he told me that wouldn’t be right. He also owned a small grocery store and gas station where he allowed regular customers to charge their purchases and pay him on payday. He cared for his elderly mother, always giving her a gift of cash on her birthday or other special occasions–he said she never had any money of her own when he was growing up. When I was a teenager, he often treated me and other young family members to a free tank of gas when we stopped by. His actions taught me to value honesty, generosity, respect for my parents, and concern for other people. He didn’t lecture me about those things or turn them into strict rules I had to obey. He just lived in a way that inspired my admiration. I wanted to become the kind of person he was.

My own children are grown now, but I have been blessed to see some similar results in my life as a parent. When our daughter, Kate, was a teen, another parent commented on how polite she was.

“You must be a very strict disciplinarian” she said.

My reply was, “No, I just reat her with courtesy and respect, and assume she will treat others in the same way.”

Another time, my daughter, Beth, was complimented on being a good listener, and very thoughtful.

“I get that from my mom” she answered.

I’m not trying to blow my own horn, because I’ve also failed any number of times. Often my children were the ones who called me out when this happened! For example, I once advised one of my daughters to avoid a person who had hurt her.

“But mom,” she said, “doesn’t the Bible say we are to forgive severnty times seven?”

Whoops! Thankfully admitting our sins and asking for forgiveness is also something our children need to see and imitate. My point is this: for better or worse, our children will be influenced by the way we live. So, think about it. If you have your own children–or children with whom you regularly interact–what is your life teaching them?

For more about parenthood see these posts:

Modern Parents Vintage Values by Sissy Goff and Melissa Trevathan–Book Review

Change, Loss and Faith

eat, sleep, save the World by Jamie Sumner–Book Review

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