Selfish Parenting: What your kids hear

by Sami

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Are you a selfish parent?

Before you get angry at me for asking such a question, let me explore just one aspect of this:

We attended my niece’s wedding over Labor Day weekend. As we started the nine hour drive back to Nashville, I quickly contemplated how I would help pass the time with the kiddos.

Before I even had time to come up with an answer, my four year old son voluntarily asked for his Read & Share Toddler Bible. When he opened it up, we remembered that it came with an accompanying DVD!

“Can we watch it,” he asked me? Let me think…duh, of course! In fact, it gave me great joy that my son wanted to watch the Bible stories on screen while following along in the book.

Thinking the kids were well occupied (i.e. distracted and not paying attention to the parents in the front seat), I started to debrief the weekend’s events with my husband. While it had been a wonderful time with family, those family dynamics also brought up emotions I had not dealt with in some time.

Imagine my surprise when my daughter then asked a question about our deep conversation.
Hadn’t I appropriately occupied her? Perhaps not.
Over-stimulated her? Maybe.
Failed to acknowledge how perceptive she is? Most definitely.

Why is it that I expect my children to listen, obey and retain all my brilliant instruction, but then also expect them to somehow ignore, glass over, and forgive my moments of babbling, frustration and weakness. Perhaps the better question is, “Why don’t I afford them the same grace I expect them to show me?”

It all comes back to my original statement – we can all be selfish parents.

We hold ourselves to a different standard than our children:
*We want to watch and listen to what we want while rationalizing that they won’t hear or understand it.
*We want to wear what we want and don’t expect them to copy us.
*We want to eat & drink what we want and pray they don’t follow suit.

But of all these, I think what comes out of our mouths is the most important because it can either be the most uplifting or the most detrimental to our children. As Luke 6:45 reminds us, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

Never underestimate what your kids hear and how that will impact their lives as it gets repeated over and over again in their heads. Next time you go to flip on the tv to keep your kids busy while you’re on the phone, think twice about the message you’re really sending them.

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