All instructors understand the importance of teaching the proper way to do things, and the impact of correcting mistakes early on. As a mom I want to have the same approach when it comes to instructing and raising my children. If I want them to learn how respond to stress with patience and a calm reaction, how does flying off the handle contradict the message I’m hoping to teach?
Each day is filled with new challenges and opportunities to teach correct form and lead by example. It is both incredibly reassuring and immensely terrifying that my kids will copy my behaviour. It reassures me because I know that if I am striving to live each day guided by love and a desire to please God then they may, too. It scares me because I’m not perfect (don’t worry, my husband knows this already) so they will also see, and possibly copy, my mistakes. Last week was a wonderful example of this. It had been a particularly challenging day with the two kids, which was when we decided to take a trip to Costco (the first lapse in judgement). While JF was returning the cart to the corral, the kids were driving me insane with their loud games of yelling in the back seat. I finally snapped and turned around yelling “SHUT UP!!” The response wasn’t quite what I had expected, my 18-month old son burst into laughter, followed by our 4-year-old girl. I turned around in my seat, defeated, and decided I’d just hit a new low as a mom. Later on that night while playing together I hear our son saying to his sister, in the tone that only a babbling toddler can manage, “sha-daap, sha-daap, SHA-DAAP!!” Ah yes, here was the mimicking I was referring to. Forget the 100+ times I have modelled patience or compassion for them, THIS they can copy after one example. But, with a little bit of humour and a lot of humility, we can teach our kids how to live with good form. It won’t happen overnight. It will take lots of patience, perseverance, prayer (and perhaps a dose of tylenol), but we can guide them the best we know how each day; and no child could ask for any more than that.