Kids Learn

The older I get, the more I am amazed at how my grown children mimicked my attitudes when they were young. I’ll never forget what my daughter told me about how I influenced her eating habits.

When she was young, I didn’t tell her that she had to eat everything on her plate, but if she didn’t eat it, I ate it. The subliminal message was that if she didn’t eat it, the food would be taken from her; hence she learned the same lesson that I learned when I grew up.

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My parents made me clean my plate, and to this day I find it difficult to leave food uneaten on the plate. She can’t leave food on her plate, because the underlying attitude is the same; eat it, or there will be consequences. I didn’t make her eat everything on her plate, but I taught her to eat everything on her plate or else. My eating disorder became her problem because she picked up on my attitude, not necessarily my words. I am still embarrassed by the food lesson when we joke about it as mature adults.

What attitude did my kids pick up from me as a hard-driving businessman? Of course, I wanted them to learn a good work ethic through my example, but the underlying message as a parent many times was my love for them was conditional. If they performed well in school and worked hard, then I was proud of them. If they didn’t perform well, I was disappointed, not only in their actions but also in them. It’s a subtle message.

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In my opinion, the one area that has had the most impact on our kids’ lives was the relationship between my wife and I. How did we cope with conflict? Could they see that we loved each other? Was the attitude between us open, honest and forthright without being critical? Did Christ make a difference or were we going through the motions? I had to continually check my attitude to make sure it was founded in my faith.

We loved each other, and Christ put meaning to that, but how were we dealing with the bumps and bruises of life? Despite the financial issues, the illnesses, the moves, the constant barrage of responsibilities, the sexual temptations and the arguments, we stayed faithful to each other and put God at the center. That sounds like a cliché, but during those difficult times you get on your knees, give Him a moment and then the next moment and the next and finally you get through it. You become stronger, yet humbler and your love for each other grows. The kids didn’t know the stress, but they saw how we dealt with it and how Christ was real in almost every situation.

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We did the best we could, and the Lord did the rest. God set us right in our attitude and with that, he helped our kids to go down the right path, too. Today, all three love the Lord, and they express well His love to their children.

Now it’s grandparenting time! We pray for them, make sure that our attitudes are founded in our faith, and ensure our love for each other reflects a Godly spirit. 

 

Author: Paul Veerman

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