Updated: Jun 3
Jumping out of an airplane, driving a race car, or being on television are all ways to impress your children. However, what I am talking about is truly making a lasting impression on them, that will affect them in their daily lives, for as long as they live. It is something we all do as parents. The question becomes whether or not you are impressing them in the way you would truly want to impress them.
An impression is an imprint. Think about your mattress. When you lay down on your mattress it leaves an imprint. The longer you lay there, or the heavier you are, the deeper the imprint. Even when you get up the imprint still remains. A similar thing happens with your children. Your way of being with them, and your way of doing life, will leave a lasting imprint on them. This imprint molds the way they view themselves, others and the world around them.
Impressing your children is different from teaching them. When you teach a child you tell them what you want them to learn. Examples would be, "In this house we all do chores because we are all part of the family." Or, "We take lying very seriously. If you lie the consequences will be severe." An example of impressing your children would be more than just expecting your children to do the chores. It would involve you as a parent consistently doing chores and helping other members of the family with their chores. The children would begin to learn the value of teamwork. Or for the example of lying, it would mean more than simply enforcing a stricter punishment. It would be you as the parent consistently telling the truth, even when it is difficult, or unpleasant. Impressing your children involves your every day living. How your children experience you will become a guide for how they navigate and experience the world for the rest of their lives.
I'm certain for most of us it is easy to think of ways that we are not measuring up as parents. Especially when we look at things like time spent with them, or things we can't buy them. But I would like you to dig deeper.....Think about things like how you talk about yourself, how you invest your time and talents, and how you respond to others. These things speak volumes to your children. What does how you live say about what you want to impress upon your children? Is how you are living congruent with the values you would like for your children to learn from you?
In Deuteronomy 6:5-7 it says; "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (Emphasis added) As Christians we are to impress our children, not just tell them, with how we love God. We are to live before them the example of what it means to love God with our whole being. That is a really big task, one that we are certain to stumble in from time to time.
So what do you model for your children when you fail at impressing them in the ways that you want to? One suggestion is that you can take that opportunity to model other areas. There will certainly be times when your children will need an example, an impression, of how to handle their failures. In those moments you can impress upon them values of humility, forgiveness, mercy and grace.
Dear Parent, you have such a big job, simply who you are is already impressive to your children. The question is, are you being impressive, in the ways that you want, to leave a lasting impression?