The Examples You Are Not Setting

I used to think I was teaching Ethan some pretty awesome things by my example. Unfortunately for my ego, I just started reading a great book entitled, “Mommy, Teach Me,” which has illuminated just how many things for which I am not setting a great example. In fact, I am not setting an example at all (when I can avoid doing so) in the areas of housework, giving, bible study/prayer, concentration, art… I’m sure there are many more.

Am I doing these things? Yes, usually. But I don’t do them in such a way that he can see my example, so how is he to learn?

For the last three years, I have pretty faithfully separated my life into two neat compartments: “Child Rearing,” and “Everything Else.” When I’m focusing on Ethan, I’m focused. When I need to focus on some other responsibility, I try to make it happen when Ethan is otherwise occupied.

I would read my Bible before he woke up. I would plop him in front of the TV or computer so I could cook or clean. I would pick up and vacuum once he was tucked into bed. I gave to my church online.

I’ve been choosing to do many important things in such a way that Ethan has no opportunity to watch and learn. The house is just magically clean in the morning. The dishes put themselves away. Rudimentary watercolor paintings appear out of thin air. I knew all the good things I was doing, but if a mom does the important stuff only when the kids aren’t around to slow her down, she’s just doing her work. She could be teaching them to work at the same time.


Recently, though, I’ve been moving toward a change. I don’t pray or read my Bible until Ethan is up to watch, and sometimes say my prayers with me.  (And I use this old-fashioned Bible… It’s a book! Like, with pages and everything!)

Today, I moved all our dishes to a low
cabinet so, aside from the knives, he can completely empty the dishwasher without help. He did it today and LOVED it.

Kids are dying to be part of the action, do what the grown-ups do, and help. We need to nurture these desires early, even if it means dishes stacked improperly and rooms half-vacuumed for a time.

We accomplished more and had more fun together just this morning than we have in a long time. Thanks to Becky Castle Miller for recommending this book to me. Becky will be guest posting here soon on mothering through depression… Stay tuned; you’ll be blessed.

How can you include your children more? What examples have you not been setting?


One thought on “The Examples You Are Not Setting

  1. I put all the plastic dishes on a low shelf so Estel can help put them away. Most of the time she takes them OFF the shelf to play with them, but she is learning where things go as she takes them out of the dishwasher. Not bad for 17 months old! They really do love to work when we give them the chance…though it’s SO much easier and faster to do it ourselves!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.