A big journey

With them on the journey: Jeff and our sons in Victoria, British Columbia, 1993

With them on the journey: Jeff and our sons in Victoria, British Columbia, 1993

“Childhood isn’t just something we ‘get through.’ It’s a big journey, and it’s one we’ve all taken. Most likely, though, we’ve forgotten how much we had to learn along the way about ourselves and others.”Fred Rogers

One of the most sobering things about being around children is the realization that everything we do teaches them something, whether we intend it or not.  It’s been my experience (backed by research) that children imitate the actions of adults far more than they listen to their words.  This is the reason Fred Rogers was determined to make children’s television his personal ministry.

Do you ever get annoyed with yourself? I do, and I frequently berate myself aloud when I lose something or miss an exit or spill something messy.  “I am so stupid! Why did I do that?” I somehow had the idea that it was OK to call myself stupid, even if I should never do that to anyone else.  But one day as I was chastising myself in front of my sons, I had a horrifying realization: I am teaching my children how they should treat themselves if they make a mistake.

I wish I could say this taught me to keep my mouth shut; it didn’t.  At least it did cause me to think more about what I said and did while children were watching.  All of us, whether we are parents or not, have the opportunity to change the world in small ways every time we give children an example of behavior that is healthy, respectful, compassionate and honest.  We are their unofficial guides through the journey of childhood.  Let’s do our best to lead them in helpful and happy ways.

14 Comments

  1. What a great photo. I think I can safely say you have raised two loving and happy men. I adore them both. I pray my children have come out all right because I KNOW they heard and saw much of what they should not have. Love you.

    • Amy, I think all of us could say the same; there’s no such thing as perfect child-rearing. I think your kids are wonderful. Love you all!

  2. “All of us, whether we are parents or not, have the opportunity to change the world in small ways every time we give children an example of behavior that is healthy, respectful, compassionate and honest.”…..is absolutely SPOT ON!!!! Wonderful! 🙂

    • Thanks so much! I am sorry to be so late responding to this comment; it was in my spam filter for some reason. I really appreciate your comment, thanks for visiting the blog!

  3. Sheila

    Julia, what a sweet picture of Jeff with your “little men”. With baby Grady coming into your life soon,I know you’ll be getting some more practice. My mother-in- law taught me to call it “lockjaw”…..haha. We had the same problem. Have a very good day! Sheila

    • Sheila, that’s a catchy way to refer to it…maybe it will help me remember! 🙂

  4. Well said! I’ve been guilty of this myself. Thanks, Julia!

  5. MaryAnn

    Nice reminder, my Dear…At the Boys & Girls Club, I am blessed to be involved w/ children who need the positives you mention…and then I get a big smile & hug…great way to spread God’s Love…

    • I am so happy to hear you are working at the Boys & Girls Clubs. You have a gift for showing love to people who need it most! Blessings to you!

  6. It never ceases to amaze me the ways my parenting influenced my kids. Sometimes it shows up in the most surprising ways. (good and bad) Thankfully both kids are open to discussing it with me and I can own the negatives and am trying to accept the positives. 😉

    • I think you have pinpointed the most important thing. None of us can be perfect parents (or children) but as long as we can keep the lines of communication open, things can be worked on and worked out. It is sobering how much children are affected by things that seem trivial to adults.

  7. I love this, thank you. I struggle with this myself with my 3 year old daughter. I more cut down my appearance – “Oh I look so fat in this outfit!” “I’m so ugly!” I want to teach her that beauty is on the inside, but I don’t show her that. Thank you for the reminder. 🙂

    • Isn’t it amazing how little respect we show ourselves sometimes? When I read your comment, I realized that almost all the women I have known will say something critical about their own looks at least once in awhile. We are shown nothing but perfect air-brushed images in so many magazines, movies and TV shows, with the result that we have totally unrealistic expectations about ourselves. I don’t have a daughter but if I did, I shudder to think of how often she would have heard me criticizing myself. Thanks for your comment, and for being here!

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