Men, do you feel their eyes when you are home? Did you know they heard you when you told your wife you loved her, even if they weren't in the same room? Do you see them around the corner as you say something out of anger to your wife or a snide comment to a friend on the phone about your wife or kids? Can you sense their presence when you go out? Do you open the door of the car, restaurant, or building for your wife? Do you look at your wife when she's talking to you at the table? I'm not asking these questions to make you feel guilty. But, if you do maybe there is a reason for it.
If you can control your behavior when everything around you is out of control, you can model for your children a valuable lesson in patience and understanding…and snatch an opportunity to shape character.”
? Jane Clayson Johnson
When our children are young, they are observing everything around them. It's as if their minds are recording activities they see and storing them for later use. They learn how to respond in various situations. They see what is done and who is doing it. Whether you know it or not, you are teaching them as much or more about life by what you do in (and around) their presence as you do with your words. If you are a man/father of integrity, then what you do in private won't change when you are in the presence of many. But, for most of us, including me, there are those times we don't do as we want. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with not doing the things he wanted to do and doing the things he didn't want to do (Romans 7).
Not only are we modeling life for our kids own welfare, we are training them what to be like and look for in a future spouse. For our sons, we are showing them what it means to love our wives (or not). We are letting them know how to treat a woman (or not). Our actions and words teach them how to speak to a woman (or not).
And, for our daughters we are carrying the torch for the man that will one day call her sweetheart. She will look for a man like dad, for good or for bad. In the extreme, she will look for someone completely unlike her father. But, deep down, she will be drawn to men like her dad, sometimes in a harmful way. I was reminded of this just the other night. In this case (not patting myself on the back at all because if I took the time to find out all the other things that have scarred her view of men because of me I might be shocked) my daughter was chatting to us about what she was looking for in a guy. She made a comment in passing that maybe I made it difficult for her to find a guy because I raised the bar. I was humbled and made some self effacing joke but it made me think. I thought how all of the years I've had with her and both the good things and poor things I've modeled. What a responsibility. But what a reward when done well.
We don't know exactly what our children pick up as life traits or expectations but I can guarantee you they will pick up what they see. If we knew, maybe we would stop and think before we spoke, be more gentlemanly, act more out of love than selfishness. I guess that's how we're supposed to be living even if there wasn't any little eyes looking up to us. At least, if we are men of integrity. And, it's exactly what God has modeled for us. So, I guess we're in good company and it probably works. Remember, they are watching you, dad. But, even if they weren't…do the right thing anyway.