I was reminded recently of how observant children are, even when we’re not aware they’re watching or listening.
Sometimes it’s amusing. My 3-year-old granddaughter was playing with her dolls, especially her Anna and Elsa ones. She decided one of them was misbehaving, so she put her in time out for 10 minutes. We were eavesdropping, enjoying listening to her channel her mother as she said, “You need to go in time out! Don’t you ever do that again…I’m so tired of it!”
But other times it’s not funny. It’s sad.
When we tell our children that they should be patient…but we lay on the horn when someone is slow to start after a light turns green, which will they follow–our words or our actions?
When we sing “Jesus loves all the children of the world”…but we loudly support putting children in cages and separating them from their families because their skin is a different color or they worship differently, which will they follow–our words of our actions?
When we say that all people are of worth…but we protest against giving people who love someone of the same sex the opportunity to marry, which will they follow–our words or our actions?
When we teach them that telling the truth is important…but we praise and vote for a man who consistently lies, which will they follow–our words or our actions?
When we teach them that taking care of the environment is important…but we clap loudly when regulations that help do that are removed or we support bulldozing of national treasures or sacred sites, which will they follow–our words or our actions?
When we say that education is important…but we praise and support leaders who tear down and ignore the perspectives of those who have spent years learning in their fields, which will they follow–our words or our actions?
When we say that it’s important to treat people with respect…that when a woman says “no,” that’s what she means…that sexual relationships should be mutual…but we see nothing wrong with a president who mocks the disabled or who boasts of his sexual assaults, which will they follow–our words or our actions?
When our words and our actions don’t match…when they contradict each other…what will our children follow? Our words or our actions?
My father had a saying: “What you do speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
Children watch…and learn. What are we teaching?