I often wonder how much influence I really have on my children and their faith. Am I really leaving a godly legacy? Does my private life impact their spiritual lives? Do my children really believe what I teach them? How has God's Word impacted their lives?
Having been an educator for nearly 17 years, understanding child development should be second nature for me. Sometimes the contrary is true, especially when it comes to spiritual things. It never occurred to me that many of the same techniques I have used in the classroom have worked in cultivating my children's spiritual development. Many childhood experts agree that children are typically who they are going to be by age 6. To some degree, I agree with this concept. When my children were born, I wanted them to have a better life than I did. I wanted to give them everything. Most of all, I wanted them to grow up in a God-fearing environment.
My children often see my husband and me pray, together and individually. They witness each of us spending time reading the Bible and they hear what we say about God and his character. I never knew how much of a sponge my daughter was until I was in a very difficult trial. My daughter was about 3 years old at the time. I was in the bathroom having a "woe is me" moment. My sweet little toddler came into the bathroom and said, "Mama, God is faithful." "Out of the mouths of babes" was surreal at that moment. I looked up from the floor and she was gone. I went through the house to look for her, and I found her playing as if she had not just rebuked me for forgetting about the character of our awesome God.
Often my husband will lie prostrate on the floor while praying in the mornings. One morning about a year ago, my husband was praying and was disturbed by the sound of our children repeating his prayer. Not only were they repeating what he was saying; both had assumed the same position, praying prostrate before God. Amazing. The Bible instructs us in Proverbs 22:6, "Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." I used to wonder if leading by example would really impact my children. God has been gracious enough to allow me to live long enough to see how our private lives have already been imprinted into our children.
The power of the tongue
Children learn things seemingly at the speed of light. Especially things we wish they did not. As parents, we have to fight really hard to dismantle the power of Satan's tactics to lure our children into darkness. My children learn all kinds of things throughout the course of day. They learn how they do not measure up, how pretty or handsome they are not, and—my favorite—how "Christian" they are as opposed to their classmates. There are days when I must speak into their lives what God says about them. My daughter is in early adolescence, and her issues range on a daily basis from beauty to diversity. To combat the world's ideas concerning her inability to measure up academically to her peers, I have drilled into her that there is power in her words. I often tell her, "If you say you cannot do something then you will not be able to do it." In education, we call this self-fulfilling prophecy. I often have to reassure my son, the perfectionist, that just because something is hard does not mean he cannot do it.