Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Power of Modeling In Your Home

I was at a friend's house recently where his family owned two dogs. One was a small Shorkey puppy while the other was an older mix. As I reached down to pet the lovable  white pup, my friend pointed out how oddly the dog was sitting up against the counter wall.

And  he was right. The little guy was sort of hunched up with part of its behind against the wall while it's front was at a funny angle. Nonetheless, the dog looked comfortable and happy. My friend explained that the older dog had endured some serious hip and hind legs problems for years so was forced to sit that way all the time. The puppy, who had lived his whole life around the elder one, had apparently decided that was the way all dogs sit and as a result did the same.

I saw the comparison to people right away. Do you?  Dysfunction is modeled and passed on to others even if there's no reason for the others to adopt it. They see it over and over and begin to think of that as normal.

In fact, sometimes our homes are havens for major inappropriate behaviors but we don't see them. That's why it's important to get some periodic input from certain wise people who don't live where we live.

Who? First, consider a personal or marriage mentor. Spend regular time with a same sex friend or insightful individual who will simply speak honestly with you about your home, marriage, personality, etc.  A couple can do the same if you're a couple.

Ask them to think through your home, your life, your ways of responding and tell you if they see anything that seems abnormal to them. You can find them in your church, community or even workplace by starting with someone you really respect and you sense is probably a bit wiser than you. Sometimes churches even have ministries where such people can be found.

A second option is a professional counselor - therapist, pastor trained in counseling, or psychologist.  You don't have to be royally messed up to see someone like this. They, however, can help you sort out any significant issues or dysfunctions that may be impacting your home or friendships. They can go deeper into problematic areas. The small investment in time and perhaps money will be well worth it.

Third, do a self-assessment. Take inventory and ask yourself, "What do I do that may not be healthy for our home or my relationships?" Be bold, be honest and be ruthless. Consider praying for help on this. Remember, like the little dog, your unhealthy and healthy ways of responding will likely be copied by those who live around you, especially the young "puppies" in your home.

The old song lyric from Cats in The Cradle is so true . . . my boy was just like me, he grew up just like me.  Wouldn't it be great if we could answer with, "And I'm glad he did."
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent feedback. As I have moved beyond certain life lessons I have grown to appreciate the need for honest feedback from others that I trust. Unfortunately, many men don't see the need or have the desire to improve in those areas of their lives.

    That song has been a personal favorite of mine for years. The artist, Harry Chapin, claims it to be as a result of the relationship he had with his own father. How tragic that it occurs far too often in our culture.