Our children often imitate us.
Of course, they also wage their own war against their own flesh, and in turn sin, but in many regards, we can often look to our children to act out a sobering reflection of what is truly in our own hearts and displayed in our relationships on a daily basis.
My husband and I sat at the kitchen table, doing a devotion together, while our twelve-year-old daughter listened and watched from the other end of the table like she often does.
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children,” my husband read. Eph. 5:1, NLT
Imitate God in EVERYTHING you do? That’s a tall order, but one worth meditating on for sure. Then it dawned on me, “because you are his dear children.”
I immediately connecting the dots. Because we are Christ’s children we should be able to imitate Him in everything, just as our children imitate us. He is teaching us to imitate Him by using family relationships as an example because He knows we should get it--that our children imitate us. I view this Scripture, also, as a warning.
As I thought on this Scripture throughout the week, it dawned on me that in this situation we were modeling what it can look like as a husband and wife, enjoying time together in the Word together. As I thought about this more, I was immediately convicted because there are MANY times where we are probably not setting a good example as a wife, a mother, a friend, or a married couple collectively.
Can you relate?
How we speak to one another, the tone of our voice, our body language, and even the look we have in our eyes towards others sets an example for our children. They will imitate us as they are learning how to interact socially with others as well as what they learn to expect from other relationships they will undoubtedly have in their lifetime (spouse, children, etc).
-- Angie Tolpin, Courageous Mom
I have shared countless times with you how this parenting journey refines and sanctifies me daily as long as I am faithful to receive the teaching. Sometimes the teaching is a painful process, especially if I don’t get it the first time. And this imagery of our children being a mirror is a daily convicting and sobering one.
As parents, one of our responsibilities is to hold our children accountable and point it out to them when they are in sin. It is an entirely humbling experience as a parent if you add on asking yourself questions like this:
Did my child see this heart-attitude in me first? Did they learn this from watching me?
Let’s say they get into an argument with one another. One of my duties as a parent is to teach them biblical reconciliation as opposed to worldly parenting that would say “knock it off” and try to change the subject.
Instead, I need to watch closely how they are treating one another, responding to one another, looking at one another, and even in their body language and tone of voice, in order to properly train them in being aware of their countenance in light of biblical reconciliation. You can imagine this takes time and patience.
Then once you have dealt with the sin, how does your child respond to you?
This can lead to an equally convicting question for us as parents, do we handle rebuke this way? Or do we model for our children, humility, and repentant hearts?
Am I disrespectful or haughty in my eyes when I am wronged or am arguing with someone, either them or my husband?”
You see humble parenting is willing to look at yourself in the eye, ask the hard questions and then prayerfully, Scripturally repent and turn from any sin, and then execute biblically.
Humble parenting questions:
What are your children imitating that they see modeled from you and your spouse?
What is your attitude towards household duties reflecting?
Maybe it’s getting angry with them when they mess up?
Do you glare at your child when they are being naughty?
Do they tattle excessively?
Do they hide and not tell you when another little child has hurt them, for fear of losing that friend or being judged wrongly? Are they learning to fear people's judgements of them?
Children have all the same kinds of fears, struggles, and life trials we have, but they are just often on a much smaller scale than what we experience today. Relationally, though, all the typical issues you could deal with in a relationship, your child could most likely be modeling as well.
It is crucial that we are honest with ourselves not just because our children will and do mimic us, but because we need to be aware that if we are doing one thing and expecting another from them, we are being hypocrites and as they get older it will create division in our long term relationship with our child.
If you claim to be a Christian, imitate Christ in all you do, because you are children of God.
Lord Jesus, we adore you and want to be good examples to our children of what it looks like to be an imitator of you. Help us to see the blind spots in our behavior so that we can correct them and repent of them, Lord. We don’t want our children to follow any bad example we may have set. Please help us to lead them in the way everlasting, to want to know you more because they witness in our Bibles daily. Might they see us as humble parents who love You and live in obedience to Your Word? Might we be a good example to them of how to handle disagreements and take advantage of every opportunity to leave a legacy of faith, character, and of a loving supportive strong marriage that brings you glory. Amen