Lately, I’ve been really thinking a lot about the influence I’m having on my oldest daughter, Jada. I want to teach her so many things. I want her to be more prepared for homemaking than I was when I got married. I want for her to know how to train her children to be good and obedient. I want to show her how to be good and honest, wise and generous, kind and thoughtful, strong and full of integrity. I want for her to not fall into materialism, and to learn the value of hard work and simple living. And above all, I want her to love the Lord with all her heart.
But will I be able to instill such qualities in her?
I realize that most of what she learns will not be through what I tell her, but through what she observes in me. I must be careful what I say about others. I must always keep my word, and do what I say I will do. I must be slow to speak, slow to anger. I must give to the poor, and offer what I have to those in need. I must keep a cheerful attitude, and look on the bright side of things. I must be thankful in everything. I must be resourceful, and creative. Oh, I could go on and on.
I will share with you that over the past couple of weeks I have developed a strong conviction to involve Jada more in my daily activities. Instead of allowing her to have so much unstructured play time, I’ve been keeping her at my side as I go about my chores. I thought, at first, that she would begrudgingly tag along, but to my delight she has truly enjoyed every teachable moment.
She has been helping me unload and load the dishwasher, set the table, decide what’s for dinner and prepare the meal, feed and dress baby, do laundry, fold clothes, feed and care for the animals, sweep the floors, wipe the counters, empty the trash cans, etc etc. And after we have completed each task, she enthusiastically turns and asks me, “Now what can I help you with, Mommy?”
To me, this time is so incredibly precious. Now is when she is eager to learn, and now is the time to be feeding her with every ounce of knowledge I can possibly present. What a blessing it is that she is so open to instruction.
Yesterday, while we were cleaning the kitchen, my six year old daughter said to me, “Mommy, I want to learn all I can from you while you are still here to teach me.” Wow! I answered, “Baby, there aren’t many six year olds who think like that. That was an incredibly wise thing to say. I want to teach you all that I can, while I still can, so that when you are grown up you will already know all that you need to know to get by. You won’t be caught overwhelmed by all of the things you wish you’d learned growing up.”
Having her at my side has been such a joy. We talk, and sing, and even play a little. I take the time to explain every little thing I do as we go along. And you know, I’ve found that her behavior is greatly improved. When she is bored, or has nothing in particular to be doing, she can get quite mischievous and downright honery at times. But after spending a day being my helper, she is noticeably more respectful, obedient, and cheerfully does as she is told. Amazing how that works.
It is easy as parents to plop our kids down in front of a television show, or shoo them away to go play somewhere else while we busy ourselves around the home. Sure, it’s faster and easier to clean when the little ones aren’t underfoot. But how incredibly important it is that we see the value in teaching our children while they are still young, and empowering them with the knowledge and confidence they will need in order to become the best they can be when they are ready to take on this world.
My job as a mother is to teach my little girl all that she needs to know to be the best wife, mother, and friend that she can be when she is grown. I better be on my best behavior, for she is watching my every move.