Children Imitate What they See
My husband and I were at the pool yesterday with the kids. We were holding Isaac, our 18 month old, and we were kissing one another. Every time my husband and I smooched, Isaac puckered up his lips to do the same.
His gesture was a beautiful reminder to me that our children imitate what they see. When we choose to love one another as spouses, show patience, gentility, kindness and care, our children are far more likely to do the same. However, when we show impatience, unkindness, lack of care and respect for one another, our children, too, will do the same.
Therefore, when we see a pattern of "misbehavior" in a child, it is essential - not only to redirect their behavior, but to take time to pray with the Lord and reflect on our own behavior. Sit with Him and ask: How are my spouse and I behaving toward one other? Are we showing love and respect? Are we demonstrating the behavior that we would like our children to have and give to one another? Are we speaking to the children with love and care? Ask the Lord to shine the light and pour truth and grace, love and healing into your heart.
I have found in my home that it's when we become too busy that we get lazy in our treatment of one another. We become so focused on getting out the door to the next thing, to take this kid here or there, that we don't love in the doing. We don't take our time to really "see" one another, "hear" one another and care for one another. I feel that this is one of the number one ways that the enemy leaks into families - convincing us that we need to be doing this and that and everything in between - and then there is no time for love. Life just becomes about one coming and going after another and kids experience a treatment by parents that is focused on getting to the next thing in the future, rather than about loving in the present.
However, God is in the present. He is in the present kiss, hug,and in the way we brush our toddler's hair. He is there when our children tell us about their day and in how we listen to them. He is there in the way that we treat our kids as we fix breakfast, as we work together to clean up the kitchen, as we play and pray with one another. God is right here in the "now", not in the where we have to be in 30 minutes.
May we as parents remember to allow the space in our lives to love, to give, to care for, to kiss, to hold hands, to be silent in our hearts with God and with one another. May we remember to receive from the One who loved us first - our God and savior, Jesus Christ. For when we receive from Him, his love pours into us, and spills out upon our spouses and our children. May we run to the Sacraments and to prayer to receive His divine graces. For it is only by receiving Him first that we can set an example of love for our children to imitate, to hold in their hearts, and to give to one another.
“Love one another. You must love one another, just as I have loved you." John 13:33-35
Copyright Nikki Schaefer, 2012