From early on in life children imitate their parents. A clear example of this was given to me after receiving a video one morning from my daughter-in-law. My son and my four month old grandson were playing together. My son would make a face, and then my grandson made the same face back to him. Trust me when I say, it was too cute for words!
But God still teaches lessons through my children, and now my grandchild. He is the perfect Father showing me through my children how he loves me. And while that is comforting, the same example is convicting. I model for my kids the love of God and what it means to walk by faith.
The definition of the word “imitate” is to “align character, belief, mindset or action with a pattern or template so that the copy reflects the original.” As God’s creation we are his image-bearers. Let us think about the reflection we are projecting in our homes.
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents”Ephesians 5:1, The Message
Your actions and beliefs act as a thermometer for your home. If you fear, they fear. If you trust God even when the world is falling apart, your children will have a sense of safety and security.
I listened to stories from my parents about when they grew up in the aftermath of the Great Depression, how my dad picked cotton in the hot Texas heat, and how their homes had no air conditioning. They ate beans and hot water cornbread, and slept in the same bed with their grandmother. And with the reassurance only a mother can give, my mom still reminds me that we will make it through this uncertain time, just as she and my dad made it through.
It is true when I remember God’s past faithfulness, I can trust him in the perplexing present and not fear the future. Our young children do not have the luxury of a past with God. They are counting on us for that, to show and imitate God to them.
God has given us everything we need to parent our kids. The biggest piece of advice I would give to parents is to make God’s word a priority for yourself and your family. Immerse yourself in the Scriptures. You cannot imitate what you do not know. Make space in your life. Do whatever it takes. Give up whatever is wasting time. It is not worth it. This is the time your children will remember how you responded to a crisis.
“God is our refuge and strength,Psalm 46:1-3
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Because of fears over Covid-19, returning to school is causing a lot of anxiety for parents all over the country. You will not find a black and white answer to the question, “Do I send my kids to school or not?” in the Bible. But you can find wisdom. You can ask God for wisdom. Consult with your parents or grandparents or a trusted mentor, which is God’s gift of wisdom in your life. Pray through it. Do not consult Facebook or Twitter. Do ask questions. You will get through this. Even if you make mistakes along the way, God has still got you.
There are mistakes we can easily avoid, however. During the crisis of September 11, 2001, we were all glued to our televisions watching the planes crash into World Trade Center towers. We watched in disbelief and horror as the towers came crashing down. We watched with great sadness at the people who lost loved ones. The advice for parents during this time was to simply turn off the TV when your kids were in the room. Giving your kids too much information can be overwhelming and scary.
At the end of the day, it is really a walk of faith. Jesus walked that walk for us, and we can follow in his footsteps. As born again children of God, he never leaves us. We have his Spirit living in us, guiding us along with the Spirit-breathed Word of God lighting our path as we go. The fruit of the Spirit is…
Read over those words slowly again.
We cannot imitate what we do not know, or Who we do not know. My grandson knows and loves his daddy. The simple lessons my son is teaching his son now, even through a game of making faces, will build trust and continue over time. If my son remains faithful to follow Christ, then his life will point to the Son of God.
Trying to imitate Jesus may seem intimidating, but his power is at work in you. This is how we parent in the crazy. As your child looks to you, you get to look at Jesus and imitate every move he makes. Perfectly or not, God works it all for good.