A common phrase you hear in parenting is things are caught, not taught. I’m not usually one for cliche phrases, but this one feels very true. In today’s culture, however, I think parent’s ignore this very important advice and try to teach their kids.
How do you put this saying into practice? I thought about what I want my kids to catch yesterday on my run, and with that, a lot of what I don’t want them to catch. The danger in living our lives is our kids are going to see everything we do.
And some things will be good, and some things will be not so good. Our job is to keep growing and never act like we have our shit together.
What I Want My Kids to Catch
1) Reading. If they see me read, they will read. It’s permission to goof off and do something enjoyable. My favorite afternoons is when all 5 of us are hunkered down in front of a fire reading. I hear a lot of parents saying they have no time to read with small kids. Just think about what that shows them?
2) Loving my husband. The kid years are intense and a lot of parents give up on their relationship in order to survive. But I want my kids to see that my marriage comes first and there’s nothing wrong with that. I can love my kids and my husband without ignoring anyone.
3) Trust. Letting the kids do new things shows them trust. It means a mess at dinner, or water all over the floor doing dishes. But knowing their mom trusts them with grown-up tasks is something you can’t teach.
4) Our bodies matter. When I take care of myself, I show my kids to respect their own bodies. I fail at this a lot. Because I struggle to show my body love. What I do know is I want them to respect their bodies more than I respect mine. So instead of pretending the problem doesn’t exist, I face it head on and talk about it with them.
5) Forgiveness. We can’t just tell the kids to say sorry and believe they understand forgiveness. Example matters. When my husband and I argue, we try to ask for forgiveness in front of them. If I lose my cool with them, I apologize and tell them why I am asking for forgiveness.
6) Anger. I do not agree that we should never yell at our kids. Because if we never yell at them, we never have the chance to show them how we work through our feelings. If I yell, (what do I mean if I yell. I will yell) When I yell, I ask for forgiveness, tell them why I was upset, and what I will do in the future. It shows them I love them. Even parent’s are wrong. And that I plan to change.
7) Listen. If they come to me with a problem, I let them solve it. I am a sounding board, I ask questions, but I try with all my self will to not solve their problems. My husband and I also try to speak this way in front of them as well. Our jobs as friends and family is to listen and not judge. If we do this, we allow solutions to grow in the space between.
8) Love God. I don’t want to hide my faith from the kids, and I want them to see me wrestling with God like Jacob or Job. Faith isn’t cute sayings, faith isn’t reciting the bible. Faith doesn’t happen on Sunday mornings. Faith requires us meeting God wherever we are and whatever state we are in.
9) It’s okay to be alone. Sometimes we need a break from each other. When I ask for a time out, I’m not saying I don’t love them. I’m saying I need time to regroup. Everyone needs space. And if I ask for space, they ask for space when they need it.
10) I’m not just a mom. Especially for my girls, I want them to see their mom happy outside of family life. Volunteering, writing, and spending time with friends shows them that love doesn’t stop when we don’t see each other. I love my family, but I am not defined by them, nor should I be.
What do you hope your kids catch from you?