Parents- are you ever terrified when you realize that your kids are picking up your bad habits? Or conversely that you have enough good habits that they’ll learn what’s important to you and emulate these good habits? The other day I trotted down the stairs & Reuben looked at me in our foyer with a big grin on his face and yelled “SHUT UP!” This was so disturbing! Right away I told him “no, we don’t say shut up!” and gave him a time out. I didn’t know that this phrase was going to be one we encourage him not to use, but hearing him yell it sounded so wrong and awful.I should say that Dave and I don’t go around yelling “SHUT UP!” at one another, we’ll say it as in “are you serious? you must be joking” but we never yell it in anger.
We were also grocery shopping this week at Aldi and Meijer and as I was pushing him in the cart to find some crackers, he looked at the people passing us and yelled “get out the way!”
Of course they laughed, but I was appalled at his rudeness towards strangers! Where is this coming from? Is this just toddler stuff? I explained that when we want someone to move we say “excuse me” or “please move out of my way” which he understood and then proceeded to say that to EVERYONE we passed in the aisles of Meijer. Thankfully I don’t think they noticed what he was saying.
It is so scary to think about how the daily choices that we make or don’t make shape how our children interact with the world. I constantly have to remind myself not to pick up my iPhone and scroll through email or facebook while Reuben is taking FOREVER to finish dinner. I don’t want him to think that dinner is a place where you finish your food and then multi-task while other people finish theirs. I want our dinner table to be a place of conversation, reflection on our days, and enjoyment of a meal together. I don’t always succeed at putting down my phone and Reuben has sometimes scolded me saying “stop, mama, stop!”
On the positive side, he sees that exercise is a normal part of our lives and even will ask when I come back from a run, “have a good run mama?” Or if we put him in the jogger stroller on a warm day for a run, he’ll get excited and say “it’s time for exercise!” and will encourage us to keep going if we stop “run dada, run! keep going!” It is so cute, and motivating!
While I do want him to know that exercise, eating vegetables we pick from a farm and being hospitable are things we value, it’s also scary to think about how to best help him value scripture, prayer and meeting with Jesus in the capacities he’s able. I never want faith to be something he feels like is forced upon him, yet I want it to be a value in his life. This is a hard one isn’t it! I read a great book when Reuben was first born called “Never Mind the Joneses; building core Christian values that fit your family.
I liked it because it was an encouragement to figure out what fits your family rather than saying “you have to teach your kids to value faith and make it look this way.” There were a ton of great ideas about how to help kids see faith in action through service and hospitality, to reflect on God’s presence through experiencing nature, to pray for and practice compassion for others. I highly recommend it for people who have kids and want to help them understand all the many ways that Christian faith can look! Parents, what are ways you deal with rudeness? What are ways you’re helping your kids to value faith and other things in you’re life that you want them to learn?