Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Lesson on the Way to School

This morning, as I see happen on many mornings, a parent taking his child to the high school grew impatient with the lengthy left-turn line and made a u-turn in the middle of the block. An illegal u-turn, clearly indicated by multiple signs on both side of the road.

Alas, from the parking lot across the street, a police officer came zooming across on his motorcycle and followed the dad into the school lot to have a bit of a "discussion".

I wonder what that dad's reaction will be when his daughter gets her license and comes home with a ticket. Because he (as well as many other parents) has certainly given her the message that traffic laws are negotiable when it's inconvenient.

We're all familiar with the adage "Do as I say, not as I do." Yet it's also probably safe to say we've all had painful moments when our toddlers parroted our words and habits back to us, making us aware of just how much they mimic our actions.

But I think it's every bit as crucial when the kids are teenagers that our actions are consistent with our words. They really want to know if we mean what we say and if we really stake our lives on the values and beliefs which we proclaim.

Years ago I was at a Sunday School leadership conference. I will never forget the Children's Minister who was leading a particular session as she shared about the steady stream of parents into her office seeking help for their kids who would not obey them, had no respect for authority, and ignored their direction and counsel. She finally told the parents that there just "might" be a connection between their kids' behavior and the fact that the parents were ignoring repeated requests from the church not to park in the No Parking zones. Since the parents were dismissive of authority, why did they think their children would respect and obey instruction?

Of course, it's easy for me to type this since traffic laws are not an area I struggle with. But I have been cognizant of the fact that I don't want my kids talking on a phone when they drive. . . .yet I sometimes do when they're in the car. (Fortunately, a law goes into effect in Texas today making it illegal for teens to use phones - either with handsets or hands-free - while driving.)

And I don't even want to think about the times I complain , criticize someone, gossip, or just leave God out of my day and my conversations, and then turn around and "preach at" my kids or fret about their spiritual maturity! Not that we will ever attain perfection on this earth, but it is something to be aware of and strive toward.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say."

Seems like the Bible has something to say about this as well: Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. I John 3:18


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sara said...

great quotes and so true.

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

You can imagine there are a few times in youth ministry we would like to say these things to parents, too, but we daren't.

Unknown said...

Loved the quote. It is so true! Great lesson today.

My ADHD Me said...

My driving habits HUGELY improved when my then 14 year old started commenting on what I was doing and reminding me that he would be driving in a little over a year.
They do keep us in line.
(of course I didn't total 2 cars in a matter of months. He didn't learn THAT from me!)

I LOVE that quote!

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

This is such a difficult area as parents. We strive to do the right thing, but fail over and over again at things that don't even cross our conciousness as wrong or bad examples.

LOVE the quote from Emerson. I might have to use that sometime soon!


Cathy said...

So true and thanks for the reminder!

Skoots1moM said...

As my hubby says,
Well you just went from preachin' to meddlin'....
great post!
oh, so true...

A Stone Gatherer said...

Linda Awesome post! Gave me alot to examine in what am I showing to my kids! Love the quote at the end!