We've been "off school" for the past month, on summer vacation. It's been good, for many reasons. One is that I had time to figure out next year without having to worry about what we're doing today. Another is that the kids have a break from me telling them what to learn.
So, Lily has learned to ride a bike with training wheels. Rory has learned how to make jewelry out of found metal objects and hardware. Also how to adjust a bicycle seat. And that he likes music from about the 1940's to 60's (he got into my old record collection!).
The hard thing is that kids learn more from what you do, than what you say. They learn how to speak, depending on how their parents speak. They learn how to deal with emotions. They learn how to to treat others. They learn how to tell the truth, or how to lie and cover things up.
Being a parent is hard. You are responsible not only for the things you do, but for the things your children do because of you.
So what are your children learning from you, when you're not looking? It doesn't matter how many times you tell them the truth, if you are living a lie, they will know. You can't say "Do what I say, not what I do." It just doesn't work.
Have you heard the song "Slow Fade" by Casting Crowns? It is one of our favorites.
My husband and I had a discussion about it one day while on a long road trip (captive audience, you know?) We both like the song, but had gotten different ideas from it. I found this teaching video by Mark Hall, who wrote the song. I think it really explains where he was coming from.
The fact is that once you have kids, your life is not completely your own. Everything you do now affects someone else. We tend to be more concerned about what goes into our children's mouths than what goes into their brains. But everything we do matters. Whether we like it or not, they are more likely to grow up behaving the way we behave, than the way we try to tell them to behave.
And it really is a slow fade. Whether you have kids or not, it is so easy to make one small compromise at a time, until you're somewhere you never thought you would be, living a life that you don't recognize anymore. I went through this. I am not proud of many of the things I did as a young adult. Luckily for my kids, it happened before they came along. And I pray that it doesn't happen again.
Because kids learn more than you know when nobody's looking.