As parents, we are the greatest influencers of our child’s attitudes and behaviors. Even more importantly, we shape our child’s values. These values are the overarching guidelines for how we act and are an integral part of who we are as Christians. Monkey see, monkey do.
It is important to consistently stress our values to our children. Of course, what we say about our values is important, but even more important (and what our kids will more quickly notice!) is how we respond to situations in relation with those values.
When I was young, my father always stressed the importance of everyday education. He told me he valued learning, but his words would have meant nothing if his actions didn’t match. Fortunately, I would often see my dad with his nose in the newspaper or watching documentaries. This is a classic example of actions speaking louder than words.
The same idea goes for our faith life. If we place our faith in Jesus Christ as one of our values, are we modeling behaviors that are in harmony with this value we want to instill in our children? Are we encouraging prayer and Christian actions in day-to-day life by simply talking about their importance or by actively looking for opportunities to take action ourselves and exemplify our values? FamilyLife.com has a great article on the importance of putting our values in practice as parents. If you’re uncertain how to model your values, it can help to first concretely define your values. Then, look for ways those values can be shown within your own life. This worksheet can help you define your values.
Parenting on purpose requires defining your values, living them out, and teaching them to your children. It will take self-discipline and persistence to effectively pass on your values to your kids, but you can do it!