Parenting is one of the biggest role’s parents have to play these days. It is one of the roles that stresses parents even more than their career roles. So many things compete for the attention of a parent these days. Most of the things can be outsourced but parenting is one thing that no parent would like to outsource, that is even if it is possible to outsource it.
Parents can have nannies and house helps but these just provide support services and not take up the parent responsibilities. The parenting job still remain with the parents. Parents can outsource washing, cooking, dropping and picking of children to and from school and many others but no parent would like to or can outsource his/her parenting roles.
Parenting, among other things, include instilling into the children family and personal values that have been nurtured, preserved and passed from one generation to another that makes that family very unique from other families. For example, in my family, the values of honesty, hardwork and perseverance have been passed from one generation to the other for many generations now. These values run through all the generations of my family. They are taught and learned almost unconsciously. Children are encouraged to be honest, work hard and persevere. If you lie or acquire anything dishonestly you will be made to return it.
I remember one day my eight years old son (Elnathan) came home from school and told me a touching story. He said they did a class dictation in the school and there was a prize for the one who would get 10 out of 10. After they have finished, the teacher marked and mentioned his name as the winner because according to the teacher he got 10 out of 10. After the dictation, the teacher wrote all the 10 words on the board and shared the marked papers to the students. When my son got his paper, he decided to compare what he wrote with what the teacher wrote on the board. He realized that he got the number 10 word wrong, but the teacher marked it correct. The word was DESCRIBE but he had spelt it DISCRIBE and the teacher marked him correct. He told me he took his paper back to the teacher to tell him he got number 10 wrong, so he wants to return the prize. The teacher took his paper and remark number 10 wrong. Even though my son still had the highest score he had to give the prize back because the prize was to be given to the one who scored 10 out of 10.
I asked him why he did that and he said, “Daddy, I could have kept it and the teacher, and my classmates would not have found out but that is cheating, and I do not want to cheat”. I went ahead to ask him what was wrong with cheating. He answered and said “God does not want us to cheat. If you cheat, you will go to hell”. I asked him again, what is wrong if you just cheat only once. He responded that “If you cheat once, you will always want to cheat another once”. I was glad that my eight years old son has picked this family value so quick so early in life. I asked what the prize was, and he told me, so I went and bought him thrice the prize he missed at school for being honest. He was also so happy and he shared his prize with his siblings. I did that to encourage him that you will always get more in the longer term by being honest than by being dishonest.
Almost every parent wants his/her children to be like him/her if not better. But it takes a lot of investment in the children to achieve that. Children are wired to do what they see their parents or caregivers and teachers do and not what they are told to do. Of these three categories (parents, caregivers and teachers) the children will definitely drift towards only what one of these do depending on the one that invests more time modelling them. They will do what they see the parents do if it is the parents who invest more time and emotions in them. If it is also the caregiver or teacher who invest more time and emotions in them, they will do same.
In John 20:21 Jesus said “……: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” This is a powerful statement. Jesus is telling us as parents to forget about what we tell our children to do because they will never do it. He said our children will only do what they see us do. You cannot tell your children to read their Bible when you do not read yours. You cannot tell your children to pray when they do not see you pray. You cannot tell your children to stop watching TV when what you do all day and all night is to sit behind the TV screen. You cannot tell your children to stop fighting when you and your spouse have adopted fighting as your core hobby. Jesus said He learnt delegation from His Father. His Father has delegated the work on this earth to Him and so He has also delegated some of it to us. Because He has seen His Father practice the art of sending to accomplish so much at the same time, He has also learnt it and decided to practice it. No wonder the old adage says like father like son or like mother like daughter (my father has sent me, so I have also sent you). Followers of Christ are called Christians because they do what Christ did.
As parents we should all know that the best and the most effective way of impacting the lives of our children is what we do rather than what we tell them to do. Let us therefore take our time to invest more into doing the things we want our children to do rather than wasting time talking and shouting what we want them to do. Talking and shouting will not change or yield any results. If you do not pray with them, do not waste your time telling them to pray. They will not do it because it will not be part of their inbuilt character. If you do not read the Bible with them, forget it. You can tell them a million times to read it, they will not do. They will not acquire it as a habit. Jesus was there when the Father said in Genesis 1:26 that “……., Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: ……”. I am sure Jesus saw His Father send one angel to make the hands and another to make the legs and another to make the head etc. He saw how fast the creation of man was done because His Father has sent people to do different things so when He got the opportunity, He also practiced it.
Let us know that our children will do as we do and not as we say. When we speak foul languages at home and insult everybody at the least provocation, they will do same. If we sit all day watch TV, they will also do the same at the expense of their studies and we all know that the end result will be bad academic performance. If we abuse alcohol or drugs, it will only be a matter of time, but they will finally end there if God Himself does not intervene. The Information Technology Experts have a very perfect way of saying it. They say, “garbage in garbage out”. Whatever we put in our children will determined how they will turn out in the future. Therefore, let us feed them with good virtues and we will not regret how they will turn out. It will not be easy, but the investment will be worth it. Try it. God bless you.
The writer is a Fatherhood Advocate