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Parents, Change Yourself First - Part 2

"In everything set them an example by doing what is good."
The Holy Bible (Tit. 2:7)
[Continuation of Part 1]

Famous are the words of Gandhi, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Applying this to parents, it can rightly be said, "Be the change you wish to see in your children." If I want to change my children from watching TV excessively, then I myself must exercise self-control. If I desire that my children should pray and regularly study God’s Word, then I myself should first practice in front of them. If I expect my children to always speak the truth unto me, then I myself ought to be a man of truth. If I want my children not to speak foul language or communicate in an improper manner, then I myself must abstain from such talk.

One father was upset when his son got into trouble for foul language at school. "But, Dad," the son replied, "I heard you use these same words last week." Not many children are bold in challenging their parents this way, for they may be scared of their reaction. But many do the self-talk and question their parents’ example. Examine yourself, "Do my children question my lifestyle when I lay my expectations before them?"

If I don’t model my expectations I have for my children they won’t be able to joyfully fulfill them. After all, what good does it do if parents have good intentions and expectations for their children when they are not good models. Children generally look into the lives of their parents the kind of life their parents expect from them. What an inspiration to children when they find beautiful exemplary parents who are worth imitating! The following is an example of that excitement, shared by a daughter about her father:
He has been an amazing role model. He inspires me to work hard, treat people fairly, to love God, and to enjoy life. The life he made for my family is one which I hope to be able to provide for a family of my own someday. My father instilled a foundation of faith within me since I was a child that has carried me through difficult years and allowed me to become the person I am today, and to have the relationship I have with God today.[1]
If our children are going the wrong way, pause and examine to see whether they are following our own behavior. If you see your children fighting with each other, perhaps they are following their parents who often quarrel. If you watch your married children having disruptive arguments before you, may be they are following their parents who did the same before them while they were young. It is said that one of the greatest things a father and a mother can do for their children is to model a healthy marriage.

Therefore, let’s be an example to our children because they live what they learn from their parents. If we haven’t been a good model, it is not too late for us to apologize to them for being a bad example and start living an exemplary life. The apostle Paul said to the Thessalonians, we made "ourselves a model for you to follow" (2Thess. 3:9). I believe, this should be the aim of every parent, "I will make myself a model for my children to follow."

Here is the golden rule of parenting: Be before them what you expect them to live behind you. The Puritans’ exhortation to parents on living an exemplary life before children is worth of our consideration:
Be sure to set good example before your children. . . . Other methods of instruction probably will not do much good, if you don’t teach them by a good example. Don’t think your children will mind the good rules you give them if you act contrary to those rules yourselves. . . . If your counsels are good, and your examples evil, your children will be more like to be hurt by the latter, than benefited by the former.[2]
Note: I do not mean our exemplary life is an iron-clad assurance of our children’s imitation of us. But there is a high possibility for our children to be influenced by us when we seek to be a model of the standards God had given to us. And despite living a life worth imitating by our children, if our children yet turn their back on God and on us, in that case we need not condemn ourselves but prayerfully commit them to God to lead them to repentance.

[To be continued.....]


Cited by H. Norman Wright, A Dad-Shaped Hole in My Heart (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 56
[2] Cited by Kent and Barbara Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Family (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007), 61


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