And I've also noticed how quick he is to imitate me. Even simple things like when Jazz (our sharpei shepherd mix) is hanging around and sometimes in the way, I'll say "Go away, Jazz!" And then I immediately hear those same exact words echoed in a similar unkind tone from the small, squeaky voice of my two-year-old son. Ugh.
I've been reading Don't Make Me Count to Three! by Ginger Plowman, and in Chapter 6, she talks about the parent's responsibility. This excerpt humbled me:
"Someone is following in your footsteps. Your child learns the most not by what he hears but by what he sees you do. He will follow many of the examples that you set before him. In following your example, will he be a doer of the Word of God or only a hearer? Will he be faithful or hypocritical? Perhaps one of the most sobering verses as far as our responsibility in training our children is found in Luke 6:40: 'A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.'"I immediately saw the sin of my own heart and how my desire for control and order have led to less than godly examples for my children. After reading this, I resolved to be a better example for CJ and Nathan. Instead of reacting quickly and tersely out of frustration, I am trying very hard to be patient, gracious, soft-spoken but firm, and to act as I would want them to act.
After waking from his afternoon nap yesterday, CJ was in a foul mood. I prepared dinner and then put Nathan in his high chair and asked very kindly for CJ to join us (he was hanging out in the playroom). He then fell to the floor and started to throw a tantrum. I asked him what was wrong but he just continued to cry. I again said in a soft-spoken manner, "Please, come join us at the table for dinner."
He continued to cry, and then I just quietly responded by saying, "Whenever you're ready, you can join us." I proceeded to feed Nathan, and CJ continued to throw his tantrum for another minute or so. And then all of the sudden, he stopped, got up off the floor, climbed into his chair at the dinner table, and started eating his food.
On any other day, my response to his behavior would have been to pick CJ up immediately, place him in the chair, and firmly say to him, "Now stop crying. You have to eat your dinner." And he would have pouted and continued to be upset for a while.
That evening, I saw the difference my reaction made. In the same, calm manner I responded to him, he responded likewise.
One can always talk the talk, but your walk will always speak louder.