Before I had children, I had grand ideas of what I would teach my children, how they would respond, and the blissful life that we would have together. However, there are three things that I forgot to take into account.
First, I don’t know everything that my kids need to know and that I need to teach them. Second, I know (e.g. say and do) way too many things that I don’t want my kids to know (e.g. say and do). And third, I didn’t know raising children meant training parrots! I didn’t know that they would repeat everything I say and do.
It all starts out simply enough. In fact, it is usually really cute (is ‘cute’ okay for a guy to say?). Think about a baby mimicking a smile or a toddler repeating a funny sound, word or phrase.
Just today, my toddler repeated letters and her versions of words and phrases as we played the “Alphabet Game” with our older kids during a car ride. This was so much fun to listen to. We have also chuckled a lot lately as our toddler continually uses a phrase that she copied from a friend. She gives a peace sign and does a little fist-bump action as she says “Peace. Pound it. Yeah.” It truly makes everyone smile.
But then you start realizing all of the other ways that your child starts to copy you….
- Your mannerisms
- Your attitude
- The way you eat and drink
- The way you work
- The way you react
- The way you plan (or don’t plan)
- The words you use (even the ones that are said when you don’t think they can hear you)
- The way you treat people (and what you say behind their back)
- How you handle tough situations
- [we could easily keep going couldn't we...]
I hope that my every word and deed sets good examples. Yet, I know better.
They Copy What You Do, Want What You Have
As my kids get older, I see more and more of myself in how my children act. And, I also see my kids wanting the things that I have – from an iPhone to a laptop computer and everything in between. Yes, we often talk about age-appropriateness and other aspects that relate to the game of “I want that.” It helps, sometimes.
I do have to laugh a bit, though, because they don’t yet realize that most of the electronics they think they want will be so outdated, by the time that they are allowed to have them, that they will mock the ‘dinosaurs’ that I now have.
So What Do You Do? Become Intentional
We can’t control everything that our kids will think, say or do. But, we can control what they see and hear from us. And since we are not perfect people, we need to be more proactive and become more intentional with our words and actions so that our children have the best possible example to follow.
To be more intentional, try some of these thoughts:
- Realize that you will be copied; and, accept the challenge.
- Think about what you want copied and what you don’t – act accordingly.
- Talk – with your children – about the examples, including the why, that you want your children to follow.
- Acknowledge when you set an example that you don’t want your children to follow.
- Then, ask forgiveness.
- And, take the opportunity to discuss what you could have, or should have, done differently.
- Pray – we will never be perfect – ask God for help.
Question: What other tips would you add to the list for being intentional in your parrot training?
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