In our house, we have slowly begun to raise Alabama fans. We do not sit down and educate our daughters about how important it is to root for Alabama, but they pick it up. They see us watch the football games, see me cheer when one team does something I like, and hear me groan when the other team does something I do not like. "Which team are we cheering for," my daughter will ask, "the red one or the orange one?" She is learning to love what I love not because I am sitting down trying to teach her to love a thing, she naturally tends to gravitate toward areas of my life that occupy my time.
What we want to teach our children about life is not something they learn, what we actually practice in life is what teaches our children whether we want to or not. This was my first learning experience: If what you do teaches your children, what are you teaching them about God, about the Bible, about a relationship with God?
I really enjoy the tablet PC I received for my birthday last month. The functionality it has for work, reading books, surfing the web, sending and receiving emails, and even the games can really occupy a good bit of time. However, I recently heard a message about how what we do teaches our children, and my mind went to the times when I was playing a game on my tablet PC and how quickly my daughters came to me, peering over my shoulder, watching me . . . and learning.
"This is what I love, this is what is important to me" is the message I was communicating. Whether I like it or not, that message was coming in loud and clear to them. The good thing is, I don't have to communicate that message. I can change that message, simply by changing what they see.
Earlier this week I sat down and brought up a Bible verse on the tablet, and without me calling for them my daughters had quickly settled next to me, watching me, and began asking me what I was doing. I had picked Colossians 4:6 "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." I wanted to teach them something about how they talk to each other as sisters, and in an effort to teach them through example, they taught me.
"Right now I would like for you to think of something nice to say." My oldest thought for a moment and said, "I like you because you're cute." To which my youngest replied, "I don't like to be cute," with a small frown. I looked at my oldest, "You just said something kind and nice, but she didn't hear it that way. Like the verse, we need to know to answer every person we meet, which means we need to know how to talk to people so they will understand what we mean. Can you think of another way to say what you mean so she will understand and like what you said?"
After a few moments of back and forth communications between my two daughters, both having found ways to speak kindly to each other, I turned to my youngest and asked, "So, what did she say to you that was kind?" The response came, "Uh, I don't remember." I told the oldest to repeat what she had said, and began to think about the two lessons I had just learned.
Sometimes we speak to our wives, our children, and other people in ways we believe are good and kind, but they don't always hear it that way. When they take offense, the tendency is to get defensive instead of modifying our speech. As well, even when a good message does get across to someone, it is usually quickly forgotten. So, we should all learn to speak more effectively at speaking kind words, and then learn to repeat that message as often as possible.
This was my second learning experience: How would you respond to someone who had learned to speak kindly to you in an effective way, and repeatedly did so over and over again affirming and reaffirming good things about you?