A young mother once warned her preschool-aged daughter, “Walk carefully near the flower bed, Elaine, so as not to trample the petunias. Your little brother is watching and will do what you do.” As the years passed, this little girl never forgot the petunias and the principle her mother had taught and expected her to live out: Guard your actions, you are leading by your example; there are always others, younger or impressionable, who are watching and will mimic your behavior.
God, through Moses, instructed the Israelites to teach their children about Him. Instruction was to be given–not just from the “experts” in the temple, and not just on the Sabbath–but parents were to teach God’s commands diligently to their children while sitting at home, traveling, and even when lying down and waking up. (Deuteronomy 6:7) A child’s concept of God is best developed in an intimate setting between parent and child.
But talking about God is only the beginning. The old addage, “Actions speak louder than words” applies in bold face to kids. Children will notice if a parent’s actions contradict the spoken lessons. When you teach children the truths from the Bible on a daily basis everywhere you go and in everything you do, then be sure to live out the truths you are telling them. “Do as I say, not as I do” will not produce a healthy faith with children.
This week in the GROzone we will be talking about the importance of helping others and not being hurtful. Point out to your children examples you notice of this in your own family life and remind them that this is God-pleasing behavior. And as you renew your watch over the example you are setting for your children, you can even borrow the phrase “watch out for the petunias” as a code with your spouse or older children as a reminder that someone impressionable is watching.