Sometimes I worry about what kind of mom I am. I don’t spend inordinate amounts of time with my children. Sometimes I yell at them. Sometimes I say things I shouldn’t about people or situations that frustrate me. Sometimes I forget to keep up with their papers, projects, and events from school and activities. Sometimes I shut myself up in my room for some alone time.
When it comes down to it, I am largely responsible, along with my husband, for the kind of people my children become. By helping support their interests and abilities as they grow, we give them tools to become what they are created to be. By instructing and disciplining, we teach them what is and is not appropriate in the social arena. It’s more than turning my children into responsible citizens, however.
Whether I like it or not, their view of the world is colored by their interaction with me. When I show them affection, they feel how great it is to be loved. When I laugh with them, they learn how to find joy. When I set boundaries for them, they know where they stand with me, and know security. When I listen to them, they feel important and cared for. When I surprise them with gifts, they feel how fun it is to receive.
However, if I criticize someone, including other drivers, they think it’s okay to be critical of other people. If I lose my temper, they will not learn self control. If I talk about how fat I am, they will have a poor body image. If I enjoy violent television shows, they will see violence as a practical solution. If I withdraw from the world when overwhelmed, they will try to escape their problems as well.
My kids watch what I do, too. They notice when I pour myself a ginger ale while they drink milk. They notice when the car feels like it’s traveling faster than it ought to be, and know speeding is against the law. They notice when I procrastinate returning overdue library books. They notice when I leave my things by the front door instead of putting them away. They notice when I don’t answer my phone after finding out who’s calling.
Of course, I know I’m not perfect. As my children grow older, they will continue to observe my behavior and draw conclusions that will color their views of who I am, what I value, and what I believe. In turn, they will have to decide who they are, what they value, and what they believe, and how those aspects may or may not differ from mine. I hope that, with God’s blessing, I give them the tools to stay true to themselves and make wise decisions along the way.