Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Monkey See . . .

A child's mind is extremely impressionable from the earliest stages of life.  From day one, your little one is taking in knowledge and processing it, or at least attempting to do so.  As they begin to toddle about, they mimic their surroundings.  Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it is also an excellent means of learning something new.  After observing the habits and actions of their parents or older siblings, a small baby about one year old may be seen walking about the house holding a puzzle piece to her ear and talking like she's on her own cellphone.  Or perhaps the same child enjoys watching you play Peek-A-Boo, and so she mimics your actions by covering her own face with a blanket and then pulling it down swiftly, resulting in giggles and beaming smiles.  (Yes, I observed both of these examples this week.  It was adorable!)

These innocent imitations, however, brought to mind how carefully we must guard our behavior around children of any age.  Just because they may not understand what is going on does not mean that they will not imitate what they see or hear.  We have to watch our language and our actions, as well as what we listen to on the radio and watch on the television (whether it is actually TV or movies.)  The first years of any child's life are among the most formative for their future character.  We should do all we can to preserve their innocence and childlike joy.  

This can be difficult in our modern world, especially if we ourselves have become immune or disregarding towards the evils of the world around us.  Often it is not until our children shock us by their behavior that we realize how much we are teaching them, even when we are unaware ourselves.  There's a country song by Rodney Atkins titled Watching You about a father and his son who copies everything his father does, whether it is swearing or praying by his bed.  The chorus goes:

He said, "I've been watching you, dad ain't that cool?

I'm your buckaroo, I want to be like you
And eat all my food, and grow as tall as you are?

"We got cowboy boots and camo pants
Yeah, we're just alike, hey, ain't we dad
I want to do everything you do
So I've been watching you"

These lyrics portray the true depth of belief in one's parents or other beloved figures.  This belief is one that everything they do is worthy of repetition.  A young boy learns how to be a man by watching his father just as a young girl learns how to be a woman by mimicking her mother.  Because of this fact, it is up to us to set as good an example as possible for the impressionable youth who will create the families of tomorrow.  We shouldn't allow our legacy to be one of degenerate children who don't know the truth or the unchanging code of right and wrong.  Every single thing you do is observed (even if you are alone), so let us form our lives into those of a true Christian.  If you can achieve that, you will be blessed by giving your children a fine example to model their own lives upon.

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