Last year, I wrote an article about instilling Christ –like behavior in children. Parents are responsible for instilling morals, values, and manners in our children and as Christian parents we have the awesome duty of teaching them Biblical principles and how to be Christ like. Whether you have a toddler, an adolescent, or a teenager they are observing and imitating our attitudes and behavior. It is imperative that we are conscious of our own actions. We can teach them the commandments, attend church and Sunday school, while reading the bible to them nightly, but if we aren’t exhibiting behavior that reflects a true Christian lifestyle it won’t be effective.
I’m a single mother so I am the handy woman of the house. If there is a toy or piece of furniture that needs assembled I am the gal to do it. Actually, this has been an enlightening experience for me. I have discovered how capable I am. It has boosted my confidence in esteem in a way I would have never guessed. On the flip side of the enlightening experience is the frustration I sometimes encounter doing it all alone. For the most part I can’t complain because God is always fulfilling my needs, he is my true partner. But, like every road we travel I have hit some potholes!
A month ago I bought a small shelving unit for my basement to store excess canned goods. It seemed simple enough to assemble, but was I wrong! It started one evening on my bedroom floor, parts of the shelves separated neatly, tools ready(after all I was a seasoned assembler), and Anya closely watching my every move. When it came time to snap the poles and shelves in place, I couldn’t do it. They wouldn’t snap and kept falling apart. I was getting angrier by the minute. I was frustrated and it was showing. Finally, after two hours and no progress I was ready to throw the whole thing in the trash. When the pole fell on my toe that was it! I was literally yelling at the shelf. I know it was immature and not such a bright idea especially since Anya was in the room. I put the shelving unit in the closet and decided for my emotional health to leave it alone.
About two weeks later, Anya was in her room playing with her Strawberry Shortcake House, a darling toy with parts that can be challenging for a little one to manipulate. All of a sudden I heard a thud when I looked in the room she had thrown the Strawberry parts, knocked down the house, and was yelling at the toy. I was horrified because I was immediately brought back to that dreadful day when I failed to put the shelves together. I made an impact and not a good one. It was time for mommy to fess up that she behaved badly. I sat her down and asked her if she remembered the incident with the shelves and she did. I explained that how I acted was not a good way to behave. I told her that God wants us to be patient, and wants us to take care of the things he blesses us with. I also told her that my yelling didn’t change or accomplish anything. The only thing yelling did was made me feel angry, and God doesn’t want us to feel that way. I said the only way to accomplish anything was to have patience and keep trying.
After a long talk and explanation of why she shouldn’t behave as I did, my daughter taught me a lesson. She said, “Mommy do you think you can help me?” I paused as I realized that although I was able to sustain my household, juggle multiple responsibilities, work, and take care of my daughter sometimes I needed help. I needed to push pride aside and ask for help when I needed it. Who said I had to do everything? No one, but me. We sat on the floor of her bedroom as a team and we arranged the furniture in Strawberry’s house together. That day I reflected on my behavior and my own shortcomings as a child of Christ and my Christian responsibilities as a parent.
Sometimes the most effective way we can teach our children is through our own faults. But, we have to be humble enough to admit our mistakes and our struggles to them and ourselves. Our children should know that life is not perfect, we’re all sinners, and we all make mistakes, but more importantly we should teach them that through honesty and the true desire to strive to live in accordance to God’s will we can do better.
I thank God that I witnessed her behavior and was able to turn it into a learning experience for her and me. The long term consequences of my actions could have been disastrous to her growth as a Christian. Christ-like behavior takes discipline and obedience and the walk isn’t always easy but it is rewarding if we stay on course. If we fall we get back up and keep persevering. After playing we said a prayer and asked God to give us the gift of patience. I told Anya that whenever she is having trouble with something to pray. If I see her getting upset, I stop what we’re doing and say a prayer with her. I want to instill in her that anger doesn’t resolve issues only your dependence on God does. God knows we are far from perfect, but he knows the desires of our heart and if that is in line with God than you are on the right track. The shelf is still in the closet, but it is a reminder that I am not alone, I am not wonder woman, but I am a child of Christ who needs him and others in my life to guide and teach me so I can be an example for my daughter.
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