“ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)
Telling is not teaching. A child hasn’t truly learned until actions they choose on their own show that they, themselves, have chosen the correct thing to do. Much of what a child learns is “picked up” by visual surroundings, voice tone, and facial expressions, as well as the examples set before them.
A church our family attended at one time, gave each dad a plaque on Father’s Day that read: “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) The dads were to place this near the entry to their home. Everyone who came to that home—friends, repairmen, children, etc.—knew where the family stood.
A little toddler, after standing and looking at a nativity scene, ducked his head, quietly walked away, and said, “I’m just bothered about Jesus!” Recently, I viewed a wall hanging that said, “God is good all the time”. There are many lovely religious plaques available for wall hangings. I remember an embroidered wall hanging at my grandfather’s house that read, “There is only one life, it will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Of course, every home should have a Bible visible as a way of saying, “This Bible is important to us!”
When children watch adults talking, the facial expressions and tone of voice tell a great deal about the attitude toward the subject. Children often take those same attitudes as their own. After all, if parents or other adults feel that way, they reason, that must be the way I should feel. Many times parents may say things like, “Johnny is just like me. He doesn’t like to eat _______either.” I suspect sometimes that is picked up from watching someone else’s facial expression.
Studies show that the reason many teens start drinking is because alcohol is readily available in their homes. When they see ample supply in the refrigerator or wine cabinet, they suddenly forget that they are not supposed to drink alcohol. After all, if mom and dad do it, it must be okay. Unfortunately, the teens have not yet learned a great deal of self-control. Also, the part of the brain that deals with caution does not fully develop until a person is in their twenties.
There is good reason for helping children choose the right friends and making sure the homes of those friends are acceptable before a child goes to play or spend the night. Children are easily swayed to both good and bad behavior by environment. “Attitudes are caught, not taught,” is good to remember. Also, it is good to remember that “Actions speak louder than words!”
For those who wonder why their children may have poor behavior or attitudes, it would be good to take a close look at their environment. There is a great deal taught without saying a word!