I don’t remember what precipitated things that day so long ago, but I remember in anger toward my husband, jumping in our van and hitting reverse to get out of there. I remember the look on his face, a mix of frustration and helplessness. I mean, what is a husband to do but worry and wonder what might be next. I got to the end of our long driveway and stopped. Something happened. I think God intervened and a miracle happened, because I drove slowly back toward the house, humble and sorry, and never wanting to do that again.
As a young mother, I would get frustrated and angry, not just with the children, but with my husband as well. Many of you can probably relate. I never abused the children or anything like that, but there were times when I felt less than in control of my anger. As much as I love peace and calm, especially in my own soul, I didn’t always have it – and I knew it. I don’t know how many times I must have asked God for help with my anger.
I am forever thankful that God freed me from a stronghold that day. Not that I haven’t experienced anger since my driveway rage, but I can tell you that by God’s grace I do not have anger issues.
For better or for worse, we are the most influential people in our young children’s lives. Scary, huh? I think so.
Each child is born with their own unique God-given gifts and talents, but from a very young age, they begin to model our behavior.
We can model integrity and kindness or we can model instability and rage. Never underestimate the power of your example. Example is not everything, but it is so powerful that it can change young lives forever.
It doesn’t seem fair to discipline our children for something our bad example has modeled for them. It is better to examine ourselves and deal with our own selves first, then our children.
Scripture says to “First, take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
If you feel like an example you have set has created or contributed to your child’s ill behavior, it’s okay. Go to that child, whether they are very young or much older and apologize. Tell them that you would like to work alongside them in order to both grow in that area. It was not uncommon for me to apologize to our kids for something, or for me to grow in character alongside them.
Being a good example is not about being perfect all along the way. Let’s face it, we’re just not! It’s more about the humility to admit when we’re wrong or sorry, and our willingness to change and be changed by God.
Parents are the strongest example at a young age, but they are not the only example in our young children’s lives, even if we keep them at home. Neighbors, friends, books, music, TV, video games and technology play a role as well. There is not always a clear right and wrong here. Your role as a parent is to monitor and encourage what is best for your own children.
Since young children model what they see and hear, I filled the house with quality books that taught character, and music that set Scripture and quality lyrics to music, I looked for opportunities to serve others as a family and gave our kids opportunities to help around the house with chores. These were all positive influences in the lives of our young children.
I craved what was good and best for our children from the day we brought our first little girl home from the hospital. I so wanted to do what was best for her and then for all of our children. I still do. We all do.
That is the powerful love that God instills in us.
- Take the time, even right now, to consider the kind of example you are setting for your children. If you don’t feel like you’re the example you want to be, you can change that! Ask for God’s help and begin working toward being that person.
- What kind of influences fill your home? Is there a good influence that can be added, or a bad one that can be removed? Even making just one change in this area can make a big difference.
- As you examine yourself, do you see a character quality that both you and your child could improve together? Humble yourself and go for it! It can be quite a relationship builder.
About the author
Patti Wright is a former homeschool mom of 30 years. She has eight adult children engaging in professions from law to medicine, and eleven grandchildren. It is her goal to strengthen and encourage younger homeschool moms.