Step 7

Teach by Example

Why take this step? Actions teach. Words often impart only information. For example, parents may tell their children to be respectful and speak the truth. However, if these same parents scream at each other or at their children and tell lies to excuse themselves from inconvenient obligations, they teach that this is how adults should behave. Copying parents is “one of the most powerful ways that children learn,” says author Dr. Sal Severe.

The challenge: Parents are imperfect. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” wrote the apostle Paul. (Romans 3:23) As for controlling our speech, the disciple James wrote: “The tongue, not one of mankind can get it tamed.” (James 3:8) In addition, it is not uncommon for children to try a parent’s patience to the limit. “I was amazed at how easily my children were able to make me lose my temper,” says Larry, a father of two, who is normally calm and self-controlled.

The solution: Strive to be good​—not perfect—​examples. And use your occasional poor behavior to teach a positive lesson. “If I lost my temper with my children or if I made a bad decision that adversely affected them,” says Chris, a father of two, “I would admit my mistake and apologize. This taught my children that parents make mistakes too and that we all need to work to improve our conduct.” Kostas, mentioned earlier, says: “I have found that because I apologize when I lose my temper, my girls have learned to say they are sorry when they make mistakes.”

Jehovah God says: “Do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Ephesians 6:4) When someone in authority says one thing but does another, this irritates children as much as, or possibly more than, it does adults. Therefore, why not ask yourself these questions at the end of each day: If I had not said a word all day, what lessons would my children have learned from my actions? Are these the same lessons I try to teach verbally?

[Blurb on page 9]

“Do you, . . . the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself?”​—Romans 2:21

[Pictures on page 9]

When a parent apologizes, a child also learns to do so