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.

This post was originally published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Chris

    Great post, Julia. Children are precious. They are the future. As far as parenting, Proverbs 22:6 is the right instruction. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I’m sure it’s the desire of most parents. It’s the execution of the task that proves “complex”.
    Yes, I would say most of us can be our own toughest critic. I’m so guilty of it; yet, constantly striving to improve. The lessons in humility, as we age, are plentiful. As I learn and accept, I hope to outwardly respond with grace.
    Have a wonderful day!

    • Thank you Chris. I had not thought about it until I read your comment, but I’d say that humility (especially as regards being a parent) has been the biggest outcome of the past 10 years for me. It’s sobering to recognize the limitations of even our very best and most diligent efforts. I very much need to learn to respond with grace, inwardly and outwardly, to myself and others– instead of feeling disrespected, misrepresented and misunderstood. Oddly, I have come to see Matt’s lifelong disabilities as perhaps the strongest dose of grace I’ve ever been given. It has been “a severe mercy” to be sure, but Matt has remained my staunchest champion. He, who arguably has the most to forgive me for, is the most consistent and compassionate voice of kindness in my life. I always thought of myself as advocating for him, but as it turns out, he is now advocating for me (if only to myself). This may or may not make sense to most people, but perhaps some who read it will understand.

  2. MaryAnn


    • Thank you, Mary Ann. You always have understood. 🙂 ❤

  3. Elena

    “I had a horrifying realization: I am teaching my children how they should treat themselves if they make a mistake.”
    Indeed children learn by seeing.
    I had a similar epiphany not long ago, when I noticed that my daughter was whining about something unimportant the same way I have done multiple times! Then I realized that setting an example for her was another good reason for striving to stay positive (which doesn’t always come natural to me, so I don’t always succeed but I do my best…)
    Thank you for sharing and have a great day

    • Thank you for sharing too, Elena! As I read your comment, I realized that one of the challenges facing me now that I spend so much time alone, is the tendency not to worry about what I say or do, since nobody is there to see. Not true! God sees, but also, what I do or say (or even how I think) affects me and if I’m not careful, negative thinking and self-talk can become a downward spiral. So perhaps I now need to think of setting a good example for my “inner child” 😀 who is watching. Hope you are doing well. I appreciate your presence here!

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