Having four kids, I get to go to lots of activities and events… lots of them. I’m a people watcher. I love to sit back and observe other people, especially other parents. I have learned a great deal of my parenting by watching other parents. I learn what works and what doesn’t. I also learn a lot about people as I watch and observe. One of the things that never ceases to amaze me, especially at the many kids events I have attended recently, is the large number of parents that do not think the rules apply to them.
I have been to shows where it is clearly printed in the program and announced from stage that there is to be no photography or videography of any kind, yet at every one of them I see a handful of parents that think their kid is the special one and they are the exception to the rule. I was at a swim meet recently with signs all along the rail that said “no standing”, but you could hardly see the signs because of all the parents standing by the rail watching and videoing their super star swimmer. They were, of course, the exception to the rule because their kid is indeed special. After all, they did come in 2nd place in the 4th heat, a mere 1:22 behind the first place time. But just wait… their kid is going to be the star and we must have every second of every race on video, even if we have to stand in front of all the other parents so they can’t see their kid. If you have ever been to a kids show or activity, you have experienced the same or similar things. Parents who believe the rules don’t apply to them and they can do whatever they want because they, or their kid, are more important than the other 850 people there.
So, my real issue with this is not the fact that you are standing in front of me or you are holding your iPad in front of me and I am relegated to watching your daughter’s dance on your iPad, even though I paid to come see the show live and watch my daughter. No… as annoying as that is, my real issue is the example you are setting for your kids. Kids are not stupid. They know there was an announcement that said “no videography”. They can read the sign that says “no standing”. And they can clearly see that the rules do not apply to their parents and therefore they do not apply to me. My kids have always held me accountable for my actions. Many times I have gotten the question “are we supposed to be doing this?” from my kids. (The answer most of the time was “yes”, but occasionally I had to say “no” and stop whatever it was.) Our kids notice these things.
In Titus, Paul is giving instructions on teaching, among other things. In Titus 2:7, Paul says “In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” The example we give teaches way more than the words we speak.
I remember a conversation with a mom a few years ago. She was bragging about how she used to sneak her 12 year old into “R” rated movies. She was proud of the fact that she was able to accomplish this many times. A couple minutes later, she began complaining about how poorly behaved her now 16 year old daughter is and how she can’t control her and she is just a mess. She is always in trouble at school. I reminded her of the conversation we just finished and she failed to see the correlation. Now, I admit that this example yields itself to many other potential issues, but I have no doubts that part of the issue with her daughter not obeying her is the example that the mom set that the “rules” do not apply to them. There was no example of obedience.
So remember, the next time you want to go stand against the rail to video your kid, or sneak that quick picture or video when you are not supposed to, remember that you are not the exception to the rule and your kids are watching. They know what you are doing. If the rules don’t apply to you, why should they have to follow them. Follow the rules for the sake of those around you, but most importantly, for the sake of your kids. Be the example of obedience and perhaps your next six and a half days with your kids will be a little better.