I have been thinking a lot lately about teaching my children, and the things that come naturally when teaching them and the things that are a little bit harder to teach them and as I have been thinking about this I have realized that the more I am already doing something in my life, the easier it is to teach them and vice versa. For example, I enjoy a clean house, I don't like living in filth, and when I say clean I don't mean a picked up house, but a really clean counters scrubbed, floors mopped, shelves dusted clean house. I don't always have a house that is this clean because I have four children and I don't think they should be neglected just so I can have a spotless house all the time, but I love cleaning my house and seeing it sparkle. Because I love that so much, I have been able to teach my kids to clean, and enjoy cleaning as well and the way I did that was by being an example to them. If my kids are cleaning, most likely my husband and I are cleaning as well - we might not be cleaning what they are cleaning, but we are all cleaning as a family. How unfair would it be to them if I expected them to clean all day and wasn't willing to do the same? In fact, my kids will often comment on how much they love having a clean house as well! The same principle applies to hygiene, eating healthy, being active, and reading to name a few. If I already have those habits instilled in myself it is a lot easier for me to teach those habits to my kids.
Now the same principle applies when it comes to the harder things to teach, if I don't have the knowledge or the habits already formed it is a lot harder for me to teach my kids those things. For example, I struggle with reading my scriptures every day; I try to do it every day but it seems like something comes up, or I fall asleep, or I forget and so it is hard for me to teach my children the value and importance of daily scripture study. One thing my husband and I have done is incorporated nightly scripture reading in with story time at bedtime and because we have made that part of the routine my kids will remind us to read them, so as a family we are working on creating that habit together. Another thing I have a hard time teaching my kids is gardening. The other day we went to home depot to get some parts for a toy my husband bought and while we were there the kids asked to look at the plants. After looking we walked out and J asked me why I didn't buy any plants. I told him it was because I kill plants, I am the worse at keeping plants alive, and he was so sad because he really wanted to go home and plant some plants in the backyard. I am a horrible gardener - I literally know absolutely nothing about gardening and therefore I cannot teach my kids how to garden. We can learn together - which I might do next year when I don't have a newborn baby whom I love to cuddle all day - but because I don't have that knowledge I cannot share it with them.
So big deal right, I can't teach my kids how to garden and am not the best at teaching them to read their scriptures every day, but what does that have to do with anything? Really nothing, it is the principle that matters - you cannot teach your kids something you don't do. Kids learn from watching others, especially those older than them and adults and they will mimic what they see, so if you want your kids to grow up to be a healthy, normal, well rounded adult that means you have to be a healthy well rounded adult. If you want your kids to learn the value of family, you need to show them how much you value family. If you want them to learn how to clean and be clean, you need to clean and be clean. If you want them to be a hard worker then you have to be a hard worker. If you want them to have a good marriage you need to have a good marriage. The list goes on and on and on.
So my challenge for you this week is to really look at yourself, what are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What do you value? Do your actions match the words you are preaching to your kids? Make a list on a piece of paper of the traits you want your kids to have as they grow up and then rate yourself on how well you have those traits - no one has to see this but you so BE HONEST!!! Then after you have taken a good hard look at yourself, determine one thing you want your kids to learn and you don't know how to do and make a commitment to learn how to do that. It might be something like learning how to cook so you can teach your kids, or it may be learning to forgive and forget. Remember kids learn from our actions more than our words so as parents we need to be make sure our actions match our words!