Our words do not impact the behavior of children as much as our actions do. Children are impressionable and so naturally, their worldview and character are shaped by their parent's behavior. Your smile, for example, teaches your child how to express happiness, and how you deal with sadness will set a model for your child to follow when facing a similar situation.
One unfortunate reality of our society is its ingrained hypocrisy whereby parents will live with negative characteristics yet wish to see a positive character in their children. All too often parents will act out their anger and use foul language yet expect their children to be good-mannered, or they will make carefree and irresponsible decisions all the while expecting their children to be responsible. In short, it is these double standards that have left many of today’s generation bereft of good character, rendering them lazy reprobates.
The following examples should be read carefully and treated as benchmarks against which we scrutinize our parenting:
1. Parents will readily preach to their child about the importance of helping others, yet when that child asks his parents for help with something like homework, they claim to be busy. The lesson child will take away from this incident is that you should only help others if it is convenient for you.
2. Although a child may be told to always speak the truth but when he sees this very advice being contradicted, for example, when his father’s friend visits or calls and the father tells his child to say that father is not at home, there is only one lesson the child learns: lying is acceptable if it benefits you.
3. Parents may constantly warn their child about the adverse outcomes of anger, but when that child witnesses his parents constantly arguing, cursing, and fighting, this experience will lead him to one conclusion: foul language and violence are acceptable ways of quelling one’s anger and dealing with difficult situations.
4. When a task is appointed to a child, he is instructed to complete the task on time. But he observes that when his grandfather tasks his father with something, his father delays the job for three or four days. This results in the child thinking that punctuality is unimportant.
Now ask yourself: what are your children learning from your actions? If parents want their children to be people of good character, then the parents must first rectify their own characters, and improve their behavior and lifestyle choices.