Your words are impactful; they affect your child’s self-esteem and feelings of security. That is not news to parents; we all know how important our words are.
However, your actions in front of your children are also life-impacting. There are scores of quotes that highlight the importance of actions versus words:
A person’s actions will tell you everything you need to know.
Actions prove who someone is; words just prove who they want to be.
Actions speak louder than words, so ACT.
And the list can go on and on. But what are those actions that will detract from what you are saying? What behaviors that your children see will push them away or cause them to not believe what you are saying?
It starts with behavior that is inconsistent with what you say. The old “do as I say, not as I do” excuse is not wise parenting and will not guide your children to becoming adults with good character.
I’d like to highlight a few specific behaviors that might be hindering your credibility with your child:
Keeping or Not keeping your word.
Is your word gold? Do your children know that when you say you will be at their game or recital, that you will be there? Do they trust that when you say you are taking the afternoon off to spend time with them, that you will follow through with your plans?
Your good intentions alone will not help you connect with your child and earn their trust. Be a parent of their word. If something unforeseen comes up, communicate clearly and promptly to your child; they will forgive you if you don’t make a habit of it.
Dishonesty and Integrity.
Do your kids witness you lying to clerks, bosses, neighbors or other family members? If so, they will quickly learn that lying is acceptable behavior. Even if you think your white lies are justified, your child only sees the lie, not the reasoning or the justification for it.
Talking down other people in front of your children teaches them that it’s okay not to respect others. This especially happens in the youth sports world when parents trash talk coaches, players
Throughout 29 years as a coach’s wife and 21 years as a sports mom, I saw many athletes who brought attitudes of disrespect for others into the game and I only had to look as far as their parents to see where they learned it.
Lack of Compassion and Generosity.
If you consistently ignore the shut-in down the street, the homeless person on the corner, or even the bigger needs you see during the holiday seasons, don’t expect that your children will grow up to be compassionate human beings.
They will follow your example of generosity. As you help neighbors, friends, the homeless in your community, or the needy at the shelter, you are showing them what true compassion looks like.
Ignoring the needy is easy to do when your schedule is crammed full of activities, but even your self-serving busy-ness sends a message to your kids: “I don’t have time to help others; I’m too busy getting my stuff done.”
Loving them with your time.
It’s important to say “I love you” frequently, but nothing speaks love louder to those we love than spending time with them.
It’s easy to give gifts, say nice things, do a little act of service, but quality time is the hardest to give because it demands the sacrifice of time–something that many busy parents are in short supply of.
If you truly want your children to believe that you love them, make it a priority to set aside
A very wise man named Martin Luther King Jr. saw the importance of the relationship between words and actions. He said this:
One of the great tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying. On the one hand, we proudly profess certain sublime and noble principles, but on the other hand, we sadly practice the very antithesis of these principles. This strange dichotomy, this agonizing gulf between the ought and the is, represents the tragic theme of man’s earthly pilgrimage.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
Becoming aware of this dichotomy between our actions and our words is the first step to becoming parents who live what they say. And the result of that is producing children who learn to do the same.