It can’t be emphasized enough that the example we set for our children is critical. It may appear to be clever for parents to utter, “Do as I say, not as I do.” However, our example is one of the greatest trainers of human behavior there is, especially in children. While it is cute to watch our granddaughter mimic her parents in everything from walking to talking on the phone, it’s good to note just how much she learns from observing her parents. This observation and mimicking will continue through her whole life. She will be open to learn good or bad traits by watching her parents and others.
While some of our traits are genetically influenced, we seem to never stop mimicking what we see. Some mimic singers and movie actors while others mimic characteristics they find to be funny, lovable, successful, or adorable. We are just natural mimics. This lifelong tendency to mimic is one reason why parents must always act like parents. Our children’s subconscious minds never stop observing and integrating what they see from us. This is especially true as it relates to values, temperament, work ethic, prejudices, character, and faith. Once we have children, the responsibility to set a good and proper example never leaves.
This is the age of all types of partying, cohabitating, and subjective value systems. We see these compromises of traditional moral and ethic values go from generation to generation. While our kids may not compromise themselves in the same way we may have, or even know what we did, they will still compromise themselves in other ways if they observe ethical and moral deficiencies in us.
Even if we have lived the most horrendous life in the past, it is never too late to set a new example for our kids. It may not be as effective as always having a strong life as their example, but setting a life straight is a great testimony to the redemptive powers of man through God. A parent who used to rob convenience stores can still have the moral standing to teach his children that it is wrong.
Life is not lived in a vacuum. We are in constant interaction and influence with those around us, especially with our children who naturally seek to mimic us.