Do as I say not as I do.
You may have grown up in a home where that was the norm. Parents doled out dos and don’ts to their children but didn’t adhere to those standards themselves.
Call it a double standard. Call it ineffective parenting. Call it whatever you want, a lot of human beings grow up in those kind of homes.
But I didn’t. I consider myself blessed that I had parents who were good role models, who practiced what they preached, who raised me with a strong sense of right and wrong and doing good vs. evil.
They followed the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you shall have others do unto you.
That moral principle is one that Jesus himself taught in the Sermon on the Mount found in the New Testament book of Matthew, Chapter 7: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 7:12 (NIV)
My parents were law abiding, respectful of others, hard and conscientious workers, just plain good people. They were also believers in Christ and took my sisters and me to church and Sunday School every Sunday to learn more about the Savior.
Mom was the paramount homemaker, mother, and caretaker creating a home filled with lots of love, beauty, and delicious cooking, yet she expected good manners, obedience, and exemplary behavior from her children. I learned to strive to be the best mom I could be from her and I can only hope I succeeded.
Dad never once complained about his responsibility to provide a good living for his family, including my grandparents, and he served people with respect and goodwill not just at his work but in our church and also in our community by holding an elected office in our local township for many, many years.
So yes, I had excellent role models. Papa and I endeavored to model good character and strong and genuine faith for our three offspring while they were growing up and we continue to attempt to be the parents God has called us to be.
But now, our roles have changed. Our children are adults and while we can still give advice when needed or opinions when asked, they must make their own decisions and their own way in the world. It’s their turn to demonstrate what they are made of.
Yet our influence has not ended. We’re grandparents for the very first time and I am even more keenly aware how we impact this dear little one who is a major part of our lives.
Our sweet little girl is growing up. No longer an infant, she is now over 14 months old – a toddler – and learning new things each and every day. She watches us keenly and she imitates what we do, the noises we make, what we say, how we react, and how we treat others.
So often we perform what seems like a mundane everyday task and little one, after seeing it one time, imitates what we’ve done.
Just the other evening, I asked Papa to repair the bottom of the piano bench, which was coming loose after all of those years of cramming too much written music into it, and tighten up a wobbly bench leg.
He gathered his ball peen hammer and screwdriver, emptied the bench of the music books, flipped the bench over, and hammered the staples back into the wood. Little one was right beside him watching every step of the way.
When he turned away for an instant to grab the screwdriver, she climbed upon the bench bottom, picked up the lightweight hammer, and started ‘fixing’ the bench too.
She is a quick learner. She notices something one time and she’s on to it. She learned some baby sign language in no time. She follows directions (like ‘go find your shoes’) adeptly. She amazes me. And yet, this realization also gives me pause for a little trepidation.
Little one is learning how to live life by observing all that we do. Along with her Mama, we have a huge responsibility to help steer her in the right direction.
And that direction is to teach her what is good, what is right, what is moral, but even more importantly, what is godly.
It’s a big job for any parent or grandparent in training. But we have an excellent training manual.
God’s Holy Word. Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NKJV) Or a more modern way to look at it might be the same verse taken from The Message: “Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost.”
It worked for me. My parents trained me for life and I’m still sticking to the way I was trained. The Guidebook for Life (the Bible) kept both Papa and me on the right path. As we age and enter into this grandparenting stage of life and beyond, it guarantees us we won’t get lost.
We will never find our way in material possessions and the things of this world for that path is not the best choice. Instead we have a legacy – one of noble character and ardent faith – that we strive for and that’s the most vital thing we hope to pass on to our children and now our grandchildren.
“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children or grandchildren is not money or other material things…but rather a legacy of character and faith.” ~ Billy Graham