On Parenting: Model Your Principles

Part 10 of 11 on Parenting Principles

Do as I say, not as I do.

Raise your hand if you've heard that one. There is a lot of talk about just about everything. This series of articles on parenting included. It's all talk.

Talk. Talk. Talk.

If we are going to be serious about embracing principles of parenting then we have to live them out. This really goes for anything in our lives. I have a friend that says, “Acta Non Verba.” That translates to “actions not words.” I love this because it is a reminder that if we are all talk and no action then the talk is meaningless.

All of these things I have written about are principles that Amy and I attempt to live out on a daily basis. We succeed some days more than others. But, it is not from lack of effort. Now that our kids are older we are often called (well, I am) out by them when we fail to uphold the principles that we have sought live out.

I find this to be the greatest compliment of all.

How can that be? It seems so disrespectful, you may say. It brings me joy because it means that we live out our principles consistently enough that our children are able to identify the moments when we are falling short. If we didn't model our principles then they would know it's all fake. But, what they see on a regular basis is that we are living out what we have preached for their whole lives.

Modeling your principles means that you are embodying them. Words without flesh are just empty statements. They mean nothing. Jesus spoke of this when he was challenging some of the religious leaders of his day. He said that they were “whitewashed tombs.” They looked good on the outside but were dead on the inside.

Life comes from action. Principles that shape our lives are bigger than just parenting principles. Our kids will watch and see if our words line up with the way we live our lives. We must live out the words we speak.

This means that we must live lives of integrity. I am finding that true integrity is found in people whose lives are not disintegrated.

What do I mean by disintegrated? What I mean is that the person with integrity is one who has a life that is consistent across all the spheres within which they live. That is, the Facebook version is the same as the Office version is the same as the Family version is the same as the Church version is the same as the Bar version is the same as the…

You get the idea.

A person with integrity is the same wherever they are. Their life is fully integrated. For good or ill. I think one of the highest compliments you can give a person is that they live with integrity. That their life is consistent.

Even if you disagree with the way they live their life.

The person of integrity is the same wherever they are. The disintegrated person changes like the chameleon. This isn’t a moral or ethical failing, it simply removes trust.You can’t trust someone who lives without integrity (disintegrated). You can’t trust them because you never know where you stand.

Children need their parents to be integrated. They need us to have these kinds of lives that allow them to trust us. As parents we cannot create environments of trust if we don't have integrated lives. Our principles must be embodied and lived.

I am convinced that we must live integrated lives so that our children can be sure of who their parents are. When we say, “I love you,” or “I am proud of you,” we want them to believe these statements. Because life is caught not taught, they must see on a daily basis that our words are not hollow.