As parents, we need to realize that our lives are constantly under surveillance. Starting at a very young age, children begin seeking attention and approval from their parents.
Doug Fields, the Executive Director of HomeWord’s Center for Youth/Family, and the co-founder Download Youth Ministry, reminds us of the importance of being a good role model for our children. He shares a personal example,
“When they’re little they’re always trying to get your attention. My son was always like, ‘Dad, watch me, watch me, watch me Dad!’ as he did something; if he jumped down one stairs or something like that.”
We find that a shift occurs over time as children begin studying the words and actions of their role models.
“They suddenly make a shift and they start watching parents; how they how they talk to one another, how they talk to strangers, what they watch on television, how much they drink, how they drive, their cellphone use, their giving/generosity, etc., they’re just always watching.”
Doug reminds us to take hold of every moment that we have to make a positive impact on their lives.
“Your child from 0-18 makes up approximately 936 weeks, that’s really all you have. It seems like a long time when your kid is in diapers, but when you get to the teenage years and you blink and you’re at your kid’s graduation and you go, ‘Where did those 936 weeks go?’”
“Those 936 weeks really are a classroom education where they’re observing the professor, mom and dad, and taking everything in.”
Parenting techniques that worked years ago, don’t necessarily work for the next generation. Doug shares an example from his childhood,
“I can remember by parents saying, ‘Don’t do as I do, do as I say.’ Well that doesn’t fly anymore, especially when a kid begins to think a little more abstractly, that just comes off as weak and hypocritical it doesn’t hold value.”
We need to be authentic with our children and identify changes that need to occur within ourselves.
“A lot of parenting is not just what actions do I do to my kids. A lot of parenting is actually holding up the mirror and looking within asking, ‘What kind of man am I? What kind of woman am I? If I can’t say good words, well that’s got to be a reflection of my heart’…that’s what Jesus said.”
“If we can’t articulate good words then we’ve got a heart problem. We’ve got a hold of the mirror and say, ‘What is it about me that’s broken that I need to change, need to work on as a parent before I inflict many dollars of therapy on my kids? They’re paying for the therapy that I should have got.’”
As parents, we need to take the time and energy to consider how our current parenting actions are impacting our children’s future; after all, they are watching our every move.