Ah, a free moment. As a mom, that is a rare thing. Sitting on the patio at the cabin I noticed a mother duck and her ducklings. She swam towards the beach with her babies in tow. I was fascinated. The babies watched everything she did. She turned, they turned. If she put her head under the water, they put their heads under the water. As the babies went under the water they occasionally got turned around. I watched them look for their mother when their heads came out of the water and they would swim as fast as they could to get close to her. Watching them made me smile.
As I sat there, it made me think about how much our children watch us. Our children learn by our example just as those ducklings were learning from their mother. If anger is what we model to our children, it is what they will believe is acceptable. If we show kindness and respect towards others, our children will learn to treat people the same way. Racism is a learned behavior, as is taking responsibility or not taking responsibility for one’s actions.
One of the most convicting things to me was hearing my son at a very young age use a four letter word that started with an “S” and ended with a “T”. My husband asked him where he learned a word like that. “From mom,” he replied. The word that upset my husband and me when it came out of our little boy’s mouth was the word that seemed to be flowing from my mouth. That got my attention and I knew I needed to make some changes.
Just as our kids pick up on the bad moments we are having, they also pick up on the good things we model to them. Making Christ a priority in your own life teaches your children the importance of having a relationship with Him. Our kids are a lot like those ducklings I watched imitating their mom. If we imitate Christ in our actions, we are teaching them to do the same.
As I watched the mother duck and her ducklings, God put it on my heart that no matter how old our children are, they continue to watch us. I cannot stress this enough. Don’t think that because your children reach their teens they no longer need to learn from you. They will need you in a whole new way than when they were little. They need to see you setting an example of what self-respect looks like. Modeling self-respect to your teens can keep them from making choices they’ll regret. If your teens see you stand up for what is right and against what is wrong, you are teaching them to do the same. You just might find you have a teen that stands up to bullying because of what you have modeled to them about how others should be treated.
My children are in their very early twenties and I continue to live my life in a way that models Jesus to them. I continue to live in a way that shows them the value of self-respect and kindness towards others. When I make a mistake, I take responsibility for it because I know my kids are still watching me. My kids may be grown but they are still my ducklings and your kids will always be your ducklings. Don’t forget – they are watching you.