More is caught than taught: what am i really teaching my children?


One of the things that has been convicting me on my mama journey is this thought: "More is caught than taught."  

I have known this truth for a long time but was reminded of it recently through my two junior high-aged daughters in a couple of different ways. 

Each morning, just like you, I wake up and go about my day. Doing all the things. Momming, cleaning, comforting, disciplining, cooking, driving, exercising, talking on the phone .... all the things we moms do each day, every day, without really thinking about it. Every day kind of looks like the one before and the one after, but then...God has a way of waking us out of our fog and teaching—or reminding us of—a valuable truth.

I was first recently reminded of that saying, "More is caught than taught," one day, when a teenaged girl from the kids' school popped over to have me cut her hair. (My fancy salon setup consists of a chair placed in the middle of the kitchen and a hair cape.) To my surprise both of my girls snuggled up on the kitchen eat-in bench and sat unmoving and fixated on this "big" girl's every move and word. It is the quietest my girls have been in our home in a loooooong while. They both just sat there taking it all in. 

It struck me, and reminded me, how much "littles" look up to "bigs."  It also reminded me that although I am not a cool, cute high school girl, I am still my girls' constant "big."  My little girls look up to me, observe and take in what I do and how I do it all day, every day. 

The second time was a "call out" by my girls. I had just shut the door from chatting with one of our elderly neighbors and turned around to see those two sets of brown eyes staring at me. They giggled a little and said, "Mom, whenever you talk to someone at the door you talk so Southern and sweet. Then you turn back to us and say in a "blah" voice, 'OK kids get back to our chores please.'"

It was true. Here I was slathering mere acquaintances with sweet honey tones from my mouth but not treating my kids to that same sweetness in tone and attitude. And they are the people I love the most! It was a good "call out"... a sobering healthy "call out." 


You see, they were observing and learning. How am I going to teach them to "speak life to each other, use your kind words first always, be encouraging even if you're joking, look at my eyes when you talk to me, love your brother /sister well..." all the things I say over and over daily to my kids if I, as their mama, am not also holding myself to that same standard?

Now don't hear me saying that this should be an all-the-time-24/7-sweet-talk thing. There is a definite time for a "mommy tone" in our kids' lives, BUT what is my daily interaction with my kids layered with? It made me stop and think, repent and realize, the importance of being intentionally sweet to my kids in action and speech. 

They learn most from how I respond when the Gatorade—with no lid on—gets knocked across the kitchen, and seeps down into the island drawers and floor and is all over me as well.  (Obviously this is a real thing that just happened ... I only had to wash the floor 4 times to get it unsticky. Bless it.)

They learn when they are telling me something and I'm nodding and texting on my phone at the same time, no eye contact involved. They learn when I choose social media over a game, reading, or playing outside with them.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3

All of this is to say: Stop this week and do a quick "call out" on yourself. See what needs to be weeded from your life in this mom season. Intentionally determine what convictions you want your kiddos to be picking up, because how we live as mamas on an everyday basis is what they really see and learn from. 

Now the beauty of this all, is that it has been a sweet reminder of my intense, daily need for Jesus. I am a sinner that messes up, and my kids (who are also sinners) see that too. That's not a bad thing! But, they also get to see a God who lavishes me, and them, with his love and grace every time we do mess up. They get to see a mama who has to stop and apologize to them for being grumpy or angry and we remember together that Jesus paid it all and gives us a clean slate every time. Thank you Lord!  

Unless the Lord build the house they labor in vain who build it;
unless the Lord guards the city the watchmen labor in vain.
 Psalm 127:1


 So the good news in all this is that just because more is being caught then taught doesn't mean we have to walk a perfect tightrope of right choices. It means, our responses in those mess ups and in our daily small choices, is what our kids get to "catch on" to; that a life filled with a relationship with Jesus brings joy, hope, peace and trust in the only Someone who never messes up. It's us being prayerfully dependent upon God and not our own self sufficiency and learning to  "pray without ceasing" I Thessalonians 4:17.

So why not take a moment this week to intentionally think through, What is being caught by my kids in my life that might need tweaking? Take some minutes to be before the Lord and ask for his help to change and grow in those areas. Over time, He will patiently and lovingly change you from the inside out, just as He promised. 

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ Philippians 1:6.

What a beautiful promise for mamas (and their children) who daily need this hope. 

Posted on June 28, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.