You try to teach your children the Golden Rule, and instill some values that will help them become good citizens. But, what happens when the adults and role models in a child’s life don’t do right? Will your child learn from their example? Or will she listen to your words? What can you say and do to guide your child in the right direction?
Sometimes the issue is a minor one. A grandmother who constantly gossips in front of your daughter, a teacher who screams when she gets angry or an uncle who tells white lies. However, these people all set examples for our children. Add to this the fact that even though we try our best, no mother is perfect and you have a child who can grow very confused between your words and the actions she sees out of the adults around her.
First, admit to your child that you and others are imperfect. She already knows this, so why try to hide it? If you are a Christian, tell your child that her example should not be others, but Jesus.
Set an example by not allowing others to act poorly in your presence. While you can hardly call someone out for gossiping, you can refuse to participate in it. A simple, “I really don’t feel comfortable talking about this” will suffice and set an example for your child. Try your best not to lie, cheat, steal or do anything else you wouldn’t want your child to do. If you slip up and tell a white lie (we’re all human) or find yourself gossiping, don’t be afraid to admit your shortcomings. It is only through intensive self reflection that we can grow into better individuals.
What if you are trying to raise your child in the church and all she sees are Christians who don’t act right? There are adults who have been driven away from church because of this. Again, simply point out that these people are human and your example is not them, but God. Try to model a forgiving spirit and attitude for your child.
Most of all, keep the lines of communication open. As your child turns into a teen, this will be absolutely vital.