They will copy what you are!
(J. C. Ryle, "The Duties of Parents")
Parents, train your children remembering continually
the influence of your own example!
Instruction, and advice, and commands will profit little--
unless they are backed up by the pattern of your own life!
Your children will never believe you are in earnest,
so long as your actions contradict your counsel.
Tillotson made a wise remark when he said, "To give
children good instruction, and a bad example, is but
beckoning to them with the head to show them the
way to heaven, while we take them by the hand
and lead them in the way to hell!"
We little know the force and power of example.
No one of us can live to himself in this world. We are
always influencing our children, in one way or another,
either for good or for evil--either for God or for sin.
They see our ways.
They mark our conduct.
They observe our behavior.
And never does example show so powerfully
as it does in the case of parents and children.
Fathers and mothers, do not forget that children learn
more by the eye than they do by the ear. No school will
make such deep marks on 'character' as home. The best of
school-teachers will not imprint on their minds as much as
they will pick up at your fireside. Imitation is a far stronger
principle with children than memory. What they see has a
much stronger effect on their minds than what they are told.
Take care, then, what you do in front of your child. It is a
true proverb, "He who sins before a child, sins double!"
Strive rather to be a living epistle of Christ, such as your
families can read, and that plainly too. Be an example of
reverence for the Word of God, and reverence in prayer.
Be an example . . .
Do not think your children will practice what they do not
see you do. You are their model picture--and they will
copy what you are! Your reasoning and your lecturing,
your wise commands and your good advice--all this they
may not understand. But they can understand your life!
Children are very quick observers--very quick in seeing
through some kinds of hypocrisy, very quick in finding out
what you really think and feel, very quick in adopting all
your ways and opinions. You will often find as the father
is, so is the son.
Your children will seldom learn habits which they see you
despise; or walk in paths in which you do not walk yourself.
The parent who tries to train without setting a good example
is building with one hand, and pulling down with the other!