One goal with intentional parenting is to become more connected with our children and more intentional in the words we speak and the things we do.
I heard a homily this past Saturday that spoke on hypocrisy. Here’s the part I want you to know: there are two signs parents need to be aware of and from which we need to put up safeguards. 1) a hypocrite says “Do what I say and not what I do” – their words and actions/behaviors/choices do not line up; and 2) a hypocrite says “children, honor your mother and father” while ignoring the truth that parents are to “not drive your children to anger”.
Do your words and your actions line up? If you tell your children not to do something, do you do that very thing? “No lying, stealing, cheating” but you call out sick from work just because you don’t want to go in that day; you take a candy bar or pack of gum from the register, because they’ll never know – or you even open a bag of chips or a drink and walk through the store with it and have no intention of paying for the treat; or you fudge your hours on your time card at work….Your children learn from you. So do you teach them good things or bad? A child is not going to know the difference between right and wrong if you, the parent, does not teach right from wrong.
Do you demand respect from your children but give them nothing to respect? Do you demand respect and obedience from your children, all the while saying spiteful, hurtful, hateful things to them? Do you demand respect from your children and yet you are not consistent in your rules or expectations? Do you demand respect from your children but use your fists or belt to achieve obedience or satisfaction for your own anger? This draws anger, confusion, and even a blatant disrespect from your children.
Are you intentionally building your children up, praising their good deeds, their wise choices? Are you intentionally tearing them down because it’s all you know or it’s how you were raised? What is the intent behind that word or phrase?
Are you intentionally living a lifestyle your children can and will admire? Is it a lifestyle you want your children to choose? Are you intentionally living a lifestyle that will see you wind up in jail or prison? Is that the lifestyle you want your children to choose? Are you intentionally living a lifestyle that will find you fired from work – because of the way you treat people, the words you say, or the poor job you do in not taking care in your duties? Is that what you want your children to learn from you?
I remember a few years ago I had a client, J. J was a drug dealer. He never did drugs a day in his life. But his boy did. His boy was a drug addict. He couldn’t understand what he’d done wrong. His lifestyle was a “do what I say and not what I do” lifestyle. By dealing drugs, his son had learned that drugs were “cool” and “okay” to mess with and the boy couldn’t understand why his dad would supply “poison” to all these people if it were really that bad.
More than 5 years ago, I worked in a restaurant. In this restaurant, one woman got several people fired because she lied, stole, and cheated the system but always made it look like it was other people. There were many of us who were let go because of her actions. I don’t know where she is now, nor do I care. What I do care about is that she was taught this behavior – either through her parents’ words or deeds.
Do you really want your children to learn to “cheat the system” and one day face the consequences? Do you really want your children to have such a disregard for other human life and dignity? If your answer is yes, then do not continue with these classes. Read no further. However, if you want to learn to regard all human life as precious, all people as worth recognition, time, and acknowledgment – assigning them a dignity they may not realize is their own right – then continue on, because that’s what we’re addressing. You. Your children. You are both worth recognition. You are both worth time. And tired mama, weary dad, we see you. We see you struggle to raise your children in a society that doesn’t truly recognize “right from wrong”. We see you struggle to raise your children with responsibilities, boundaries, rules. We see you struggle to define your place and your family’s place in our society, in our community. We see you. And we walk beside you.