Monkey See, Monkey Do

         As I stood in worship during church last Sunday, I heard the words to one of the songs being sung loud and beautifully I might add, by little Judah behind me.  Although, I know he is a smart little boy, I know there is no way at his young age he could read all the words to the song.  It filled my heart with immense joy to think that this little boy had heard this worship song so often in his household, that he knew the words by heart.  As parents, we have to remember that what we pour into our children is what we get see come out.  So many times, I don’t think we even realize what it is that we are pouring into our kids.  Sometimes it’s not even tangible things that we pour into our children.
          We all know that children have their own personalities, but when they are young they are pretty much a mirror image of ourselves.  They live in a “monkey see, monkey do” world.  They see what we do and they mimic it.  If your child plays with dolls, think about how they “discipline” their dolls.  It is always a reflection of how we have disciplined them.  The first part of Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go”.  As parents we need to consider that training means not only the direct lessons we teach our children but also how we conduct ourselves outside of our children’s daily lives.  For example, when our children are in the other room, are we gossiping with our friends?  Do we talk about others not being good people or not being good parents rather showing compassion and love?  Do we parent with such fear of the outside world that we fail to show our love and faith in Jesus?  We can speak the right words, but our actions are what our children will remember & emulate. 
Let’s use an extreme example.  We have two boys from two families.  Little Johnny and Little Sam.  Both boys go to church every Sunday and know all the Bible stories and their parents have a Bible devotion with him every night.  However, while waiting to fall asleep, Little Johnny hears his parents talking about a boy in his class who has been getting in trouble and how he has a mom who is just a terrible mom.  They remark she is such a bad mom that it is no wonder the boy is turning out so bad.  What Little Johnny is taking from that conversation is that the little boy who is in trouble isn’t as “good” as other kids because he has a bad mom and he is never going to be good enough.  Now let’s look at Little Sam’s family.  Little Sam overhears his parents talking about the same little boy as well.  Only Little Sam’s family is speaking with the fruits of the spirit.  They are speaking with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control.  They empathize with the mother and say while she may have made some bad choices they don’t know what her circumstances are and remark that no matter what she and the boy are not bad people.  They are both made in God’s image and loved by God just as much as their family is.  Little Sam’s parents say they should reach out to the boy and his mom and invite them to the church picnic and then pray together for the little boy and his mom.  What Little Sam has learned is that we are all created by God in His image and we are loved by him accordingly.  Each and every one of us is loved, not just those who do and say the right things.  Again, this is an extreme example, but it illustrates the importance of not just verbally teaching our children but also by letting our lives and how we conduct our lives when we think our kids aren’t watching be the example of the kind of children we want to raise.
That last sentence brings me to the second part of Proverbs 22:6 which says, “even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  We all know that there is no such thing as the perfect parent.  We all make mistakes and we all have situations we might have wished we had handled differently. As parent, we pray for our children, we seek God’s help in raising them and keep God at the head of our household.  But in the end, our children grow up and their faith becomes their own.  We pray that they will continue on God’s path and sometimes they do, and sometimes that path becomes a little crooked but eventually straightens back out and sometimes that path has taken a detour.  When those times arise, we just need to take comfort in Proverbs 22:6 and remember that while no parent is perfect, if we have poured into our children the love and faithfulness of God “even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Our children know the love of God because they have seen the love & faithfulness of God through us parents. And as parents we pray daily that they not only know but accept that love.
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