“To bring up a child in the way he or she should go, travel that way yourself once in a while.” ~ Josh Billings …
Most of us are familiar with the sayings “practice what you preach” and “don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk.” And although this idea seems rather obvious to me as a parent, I sometimes find it incredibly difficult to put into practice–I often find myself doing or saying things that I have previously instructed my children not to do or say. But as a father–and as a person of integrity and moral conviction–this is a very important duty of mine, for it is perhaps the only way in which I can teach my children–and our younger generations–the value and beauty of congruence between words and deeds.
Do I tell my children not to talk behind someone else’s back, and then turn around and say something about someone as soon as they are gone? Do I lecture my children on the importance of obeying laws, and then drive 10 miles over the speed limit? Do I advise them to choose work that they love to do, and then complain constantly about my job or work? Do I suggest that they save their money and then spend all of ours on luxury items or things that my family and I do not truly need?
Both in life and as a parent, we are all doing the best that we can–the best we know how to. As such, this is not an attempt to judge anyone. But if we are blessed with the chance to have a positive influence on the life of a child or children, it is important that we take that role seriously and actually show them what it would be like if they were to follow our advice–if they were to be honest, if they were to be kind, if they were to work hard at what they do.
In the end, it is not really up to us to tell children how they should grow up, but it certainly is up to us to help them to find out some things that work versus those that do not. And nothing turns a child away from a valid lesson as quickly or as effectively as witnessing an adult saying one thing but doing another. Our best chances of being an effective role model are to take our own advice and espouse it in our lives.
Think of somewhere you have failed to “practice what you preach,” and attempt to succeed at it today.
Questions to consider:
Knowing how observant kids tend to be, why do so many of us try to trick them or pull the wool over their eyes?
Who were your most important role models? Did they live by the same advice that they gave you?
How can we be sure that we are walking the same walk that we are preaching to the young people in our lives?
For further thought:
“The best way to teach a child restraint and generosity is to be a model of those qualities yourself. If your child sees that you want a particular item but refrain from buying it, either because it isn’t practical or because you can’t afford it, he will begin to understand restraint. Likewise, if you donate books or clothing to charity, take him with you to distribute the items to teach him about generosity.” ~ Lawrence Balter, Who’s in Control?