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Parents, Change Yourself First - Part 1

"In everything set them an example by doing what is good."
The Holy Bible (Tit. 2:7)

Once a mother approached Mahatma Gandhi with her son. She said, "Mahatma-ji, tell my little boy to stop eating sugar." Gandhi then told her to come back with the boy in three days. When the mother returned, Gandhi said to the boy, "Stop eating sugar."

The mother curiously asked, "Why was it necessary for us to return after three days just to tell my little boy that?"

Gandhi replied, "Three days ago I had not stopped eating sugar." [1]

Dear parents, here is the point: If we want to change our children, we need to change ourselves first.

There was a word that I warned my son Joe not to use, but he could not give up. I realized that I have to change first to see my child change, for I have used the same word often before him. I changed and he too.

Children get fretful when we tell them to do a particular thing while we do the contrary.
They hate hypocrisy—telling them to obey that which we ourselves don’t practice. Don H. Highlander pointed out, "If our children are disrespectful, perhaps we need to examine our own attitudes and examples. They may be responding to our inconsistency; we may be breaking our own rules."[2]

I recollect watching a story in which a young man was continuously absent from the college. The authorities of the college decided that he should get his father, or else he will be removed from the institute. He then goes and informs his father that he should visit the college while concealing the actual fact. The father, unaware of the cause, assumes it is for some formality’s sake and encourages his son to lie to the authorities that he is sick and thus cannot visit. However, when the father eventually comes to know that his son was indeed lying to him and bunked off college, his heart was shattered.

How easy it is for parents to encourage their children to lie to others, but when the children lie to them, how painful for them to endure!

What are we teaching to our children? Do you think your children are not learning to speak lies from you when you are conversing with your spouse to tell a lie at your office about being sick, only to do some personal work? How absurd it is when we teach our children to lie by our example, but when we are lied to, we get angry and either scold or spank them! Who actually deserves to be scolded or spanked—parents or children? Beware - Do not let your own exhortations to your children cut your own throat.

I am reminded of a teacher who complained to the father about how his son kept stealing things from the other kids. His son took their pens, their paper, their tape, and the teacher couldn't figure out why. Surprised to hear what his son has been doing, the father responded, “Why is my son stealing other kids' things when I am able to get all the supplies he needed from my office?” The teacher then figured out why his son steals.

No wonder, the one who steals begets alike. The one who speak lies begets alike. The one who is short-tempered begets alike. The one who is addicted to television begets alike. The one who is irreverent begets alike. The one who is ungodly begets alike.

Parents, do we realize that our children are continuously watching us and following our example? Do we feel glad if they imitate us or be ashamed?

For this reason, I believe, God exhorted to treasure His commands in our hearts before impressing them upon our children: "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children" (Deut. 6:7).

[Continuation.....Part 2]

[1] Cited in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to World Religions (Alpha Books, 2004), 345
[2] Don H. Highlander, Positive Parenting (Dallas: Word Books Publisher, 1980), 59

[3] Of course, exceptions considered, but the impact of our parenting, whether for good or for bad, cannot be undermined.



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