Mark S. Mitchell

Pastor, Writer, Follower of Jesus

Parenting Skill #1: Modeling

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The question remains how to train our kids. What are the skills we can develop as parents that will help us train our children in this way? The book of Proverbs gives us three such skills. I will discuss each one on my next three blog posts

The first is modeling. In Proverbs 20:7 it says, “A righteous man who walks in his integrity, how blessed are his sons after him.” This isn’t a promise but a statement that’s true most of the time. It describes a person who is righteous, who seeks to conduct his or her life with integrity. The idea here isn’t perfection, but it speaks of the overall pattern of a person’s life. The word that comes to mind for me is authenticity. When a parent lives a spiritually authentic life the result will be that his sons and daughters will be blessed. To be blessed means to be happy; to be fulfilled; to be content. Isn’t that what we want for our kids? We want them to live lives that are meaningful and fulfilling. We want for them a certain measure of happiness, joy and contentment.

The key to that is who WE are. This isn’t really a skill as much as it is a lifestyle. As we live lives of authenticity, as we engage the Lord with all of our hearts, as we allow the Spirit of God to have his way in our lives, the net result will be that our kids will be blessed. The biggest issue in parenting isn’t what we do but who we are. Nothing can happen through us that isn’t happening to us.

If we want our children to grow up to have a vital relationship with Jesus Christ, it starts with our own relationship with Christ. If we want our kids to be kind to others, it starts with our own kindness. If we want our kids to have a pure tongue, then our tongue had better be pure. If we want our kids to be able to forgive, then we had better be forgiving people. If we don’t really believe in the values we encourage our kids to live by, if those values don’t permeate our own lives, our kids will be the first to pick up on that.

We’re not talking about perfection here, but about authenticity. One of the most powerful things we can do for our kids is share our battles and even our sin with them. It’s a powerful thing to say to our kids, I know that I have been on you about how to speak to your mother. I know that I’m the worst culprit of this very thing. I’m sorry. Can we pray for each other in this?”

This verse recognizes the fact that truth is caught rather than taught. In other words, kids learn best as they simply watch you live your life. Parenting isn’t so much a set of skills but a living relationship; it’s life on life. One of the things we want to do as parents, one of our basic priorities, will be to simply spend time with our children. No lectures, just life on life; time to allow them in the natural course of life to “catch” what’s important to us.

Years ago I had the opportunity to take my eight-year-old daughter to a ball game. I was excited about our time together, and was praying for an opportunity to teach her something by my example at the game. About the eighth inning I began to worry because nothing much had happened. Finally, the game ended and still nothing had happened. We went home and I thought, “Why didn’t the Lord allow something to happen where I could be a model?” Soon it hit me that I had missed the point. The point was to just be with her and to be myself. Nothing unusual needed to happen for me to be a model to her. Being with her was enough.

How do we train our kids? We seek to be the kind of people we want them to become. As part of that, we give them access to our lives at the deepest level, allowing them to “catch” what’s important to us in the natural course of life.

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