Proverbs 1:8,9 instructs us to listen to “your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” It then goes on to describe just how valuable your parents’ wisdom can be.
There’s an assumption here, of course, that the parents have the best interest of the child in mind.
I don’t know what your experience with your parents has been. If your parents loved you, they took the time to teach you some things. It may not have felt good to hear or even made much sense to you as a child. But in time they proved to be useful lessons. And when they click in the right situation, you find yourself saying, “Maybe my folks did know something after all.”
Others reading these words might have had the opposite experience. Your parents may have made you feel like you didn’t matter. It can come through harsh words or by no words at all. Maybe they substituted affection with gifts. Or maybe they just ignored you.
No doubt children are highly impressionable. Parents have an unbelievable amount of influence in their lives. One off-hand remark can set a child down a path of feeling worthless or on top of the world. Be careful. You just don’t know what your child might remember that you said. And that one thing could be blown out of proportion in his or her mind without you even knowing it until it has done some real damage.
Here’s an example from my own life. I was a new student at a private school. I was sitting in Bible class. Mr. Ford told us to turn in our Bibles to 2 Chronicles. I did. While doing so, I said to myself (or at least I thought I did), “Let’s see if this has 2 Chronicles in it.”
Out of nowhere Mr. Ford barked at me, his eyes ablaze with rage, “YOU BE QUIET!”
I did as he said. In fact, until I was 23 years old, I struggled with being brave enough to talk to anyone who didn’t talk to me first. I inflated that one demand into the idea that I must be a real nuisance and because of that, nobody would want me as a friend. The reason it went on so long is that no one really came along and probed deep enough to find out why I felt that way.
And of course, I didn’t tell my parents.
You can’t change what happened to you. You can change what you think about it.
Fortunately, I was listening when my daughter told me again and again about a girl at school who was pestering her. I responded one day with wisdom that astounded me. I said, “Kayla, the next time she bothers you, tell her, ‘That’s your opinion. Your opinion doesn’t matter. My parents love me and think I’m great and their opinion is what really matters.'”
The next day when Kayla told me that she had done just that and that the girl was left dumbfounded, we had a high five session to beat them all!
In summary, we parents are human. Hopefully, we will love our children enough to teach them what we know. It won’t be done perfectly, but if our love can show through it all, we will have used our influence well.
So be sure to use your influence wisely. You never know when your kids will be listening and watching.