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

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our Kids Will Be Like Us . . . At Least In Some Ways

Some of us are old enough to remember the classic ballad The Cats In The Cradle by Harry Chapin. The song hauntingly tells the tale of a father who was too busy for his son during his growing up years. But when the son became an adult he also was too busy for his dad and it turns out the son had become just like his dad.

Most of us want our kids to think highly of us, be like us in some ways and feel like they learned some important things about life, faith and what is really important. But we must remember that our kids will also learn things that we'd rather they didn't emulate.  And if we're wise we'll remember that truth as we raise our kids and be willing to stop a few things that they may bring into their home someday.

Let me suggest a few.

Stop using language you don't want them to use. Sure we all have our moments when a word or phrase slips out in the heat of our anger or frustration. But some parents have made dirty, caustic language the norm. They barely raise their voice about something and an expletive or two flies out. Maybe we don't aim those words at our children, but they hear them nonetheless. You can express even your emotions with language that still builds up and helps calm the situation rather than ignite it.

Stop living a life without margin. If you never rest, slow down or take it easy your kids won't either, at least as they get older. They will think that success and self-worth come from accomplishments and busyness rather than from the Creator who made them. They won't learn how to develop healthy, meaningful relationship and how to enjoy other people without having an agenda. Learn to say "no" and help your kids understand the same thing.

Stop suggesting that your faith is more about religion than relationship. Quit going to church because that's what you do on the weekend. Quit implying that your Bible reading and prayer are mere rituals that you do at the appropriate time but rarely discuss as meaningful, real and life-changing. Serve others more, become involved in your local fellowship and teach your kids yourself about the Bible, your faith and your relationship with God.

Stop just trying to get more stuff - more money, house, cars or whatever. Your kids will quickly learn what is most important by how you spend your resources. Do you spend most of your energy to get more or give more? Have you been subtly modeling that happiness most likely comes from having the most of everything?  Show them that less is more, especially when you're focused on others and not yourselves.

You see, your kids WILL be like you in some way. And most of us adults know that there are some things we are happy our parents taught us. But there are others we wish would never have reared their heads in our homes. The good news is that if your kids are still at home you have a chance to limit that negative list. Do something about it now.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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


  1. Excellent, Mr. Sinclair. Thank you. Living a life without margin is my MO and my (only child) daughter is almost 17. Even if I radically change my entire way of life right this instant, it's too late now, she's already developed that bad habit of taking on too much responsibility. I regret that so much, and am afraid I've set her up for a frustrating life and an early death from running her too hard. This was a somber word for me today and made me very sad.

  2. Thanks so much for your candid and poignant comments. I hope they will affirm for others the need to start to add margin and the important things into our lives now.

  3. Anonymous I disagree. It's not too late for your daughter or for you either. Slowing down and adding margin/rest in our lives is a life skill that can be learned. Bad habits can be broken. Look at your priorities and lop off less important things. It's important to also analyze why you feel the need to take on too much or why you can't say "no". Start small and celebrate each victory and soon you will start seeing progress. Hang in there, you and your daughter can change if you really want to.

  4. Thanks for the extra encouragement and thoughts from your experience.