Most of us would never tell our children, “Do as I SAY, not as I DO.”
I mean, we wouldn’t take a swig of whiskey while telling our teens, “You should never, ever drink.”
And it would be insanely laughable to teach our children to have good manners at the table while picking our own nose and wiping it on the wall. (Ewww)
Right? Are you with me so far?
Good. Stay with me for just a minute, because I’m going somewhere with this.
Even with the very best intentions, I sometimes find myself being a hypocrite with my children. Oh, I wouldn’t drink while telling them not to, and I’m pretty sure I’m not wiping my boogers on the wall–but if I’m really honest, there are other ways I see hypocrisy in my parenting. I continually have to guard myself against teaching my children one thing while SHOWING them another.
Now, maybe it’s just me,and you have this parenting thing all mastered. 🙂 Or maybe you will see your reflection in some of these areas, and join me in asking God to change us to be more like Him.
Here’s three ways parents can be hypocrites with their children:
We expect perfection while living imperfect lives.
Have you ever gotten angry at your child because they were being, um, an imperfect child? Come on, now, be honest. 🙂 You fussed at your husband on the way to church and then got embarrassed at your 3 year old for sticking out his tongue at his brother during the service. Or you put off your quiet time because the morning was crazy, but got angry at your 6 year old because he didn’t want to do his homework. The issue is, of course, that we adults are a tad bit “wiser” when it comes to our imperfections. And we have enough pride to hide most of them from others. Children (young children especially!), on the other hand, don’t act to impress. They are openly imperfect. 🙂 Now I’m not suggesting that we throw up our hands and expect nothing from our children, but I am pointing out that it is completely hypocritical for adults to put HIGHER standards of behavior on tiny little children than they’re even putting on themselves. We must guard against setting an unattainable standard of perfection in our home. An atmosphere of growth and grace, with open mistakes and just as open apologies and forgiveness is the key here.
We expect respect from our children while not giving them respect.
For some reason, more respect is given to our spouses, our best friends, our church community, and even TOTAL STRANGERS than is often given to children. There’s like this unwritten code among adults that it’s acceptable to speak unkindly of or to our children or teens.”Wow. You have alot of children. You don’t want MORE, do you?” or “Ugh. He’s so naughty.” or “Wait until they’re teenagers!” or “You’re such a brat!” or “Is she a GOOD baby?” (as if only silent babies who sleep on command are GOOD?) or “Sit down and shut up!” or “How many times do I have to tell you to OBEY?”
Parents get on social media and embarrass, shame, ridicule, and humiliate their OWN children. An act of violence occurs and someone is sure to point out, “A good beating when he was a kid would have fixed that!” It’s become commonplace to talk openly about how hard/difficult/stubborn/challenging/annoying/insert-your-child’s behavior-here children are, and to AGREE with other moms who need “some wine before they go crazy” or some “time away from my kids”.
.Now, some of you will disagree with me here, and say that it’s different when we’re complaining about our children than when we’re complaining about other people. And I would ask you this–would it be acceptable to talk to or about my husband this way? Would it be okay for me to point out his flaws when I’m drinking coffee with my friends? Should I get on social media and talk about how excited I am for a BREAK from this man because he’s pushing my buttons? Is gossip EVER acceptable, respectful, or relationship-building? No.
We cannot teach and require respect from our children if we’re not modeling that same respect. Our children need to know we adore them, and that even on their very worst days, we’v got their back.
If we can’t say something kind or uplifting about our children, it’s best to say nothing at all.
We teach gentleness but model harshness.
One of the very first behaviors we must teach toddlers is “gentle hands” or “gentle touch”, as they’re prone to hitting, pushing, or grabbing from other people. Older children need reminders to be kind and gentle with both animals and people.
This is another area where we must guard against hypocrisy, because we must be gentle with our children or all the “be gentle with others” teaching means nothing. If we are harsh in our tone of voice when speaking with our children, or rough with them when they misbehave, how can we expect them to respond gently to others?
These are three areas that I am continually working on. I want gentleness to be my natural response to my children. I want my words to sweetly guide and nurture them. I want to BE what I’m telling THEM to be!
Our children are amazing mirrors for us as parents. As my children have become teenagers, I’ve walked into a room many times and thought to myself, “I don’t like the way so-and-so is speaking……Ouch. They sound exactly like me.” I’ve changed many things about my parenting as my older children have started mimicking me. 🙂
I’m sure there are more than just these three areas that we parents can be hypocritical with our children, but as I strive to share my heart for my children and my own personal struggles with you, these three areas came to my mind.
Blessings to you, dear friends, as you seek to parent like Jesus!