As a mom, I feel the great responsibility to be an informer to my children of the world. It is also built into the career choice given to me by my Creator. Educators feel the need to provide as much exposure to the world as possible, also. We want them to know how things work. We want them to know the origin of things. We want them to know of what things are composed. We want them to know what choices they have and what consequences are the result of certain choices. We want them to know that their opinion and their passion are a reflection of them, so an awareness of their inner thoughts being outwardly expressed is something to be treated with great discernment.
If you have any kind of relationship with anybody, they are learning from you. They are either learning what you think is best and utilizing that in their decision making OR they are learning that decisions you make are NOT what are best and they are utilizing that in their decision making. There are many things that we do or say out of impulse and lack of filtering in the moment that are impactful on observing eyes and ears. It always amazes me when students that I have taught quote me or tell another student how I will react and what my expectations are. It gives me that feeling of, “wow, they are listening.”
Then there are days like one I had just a few days ago. (Insert humble head bowed) My family loves music, all kinds of music. We listen to amazing worship songs and humorous country music tunes and yes, hip-shaking pop music. My daughters will sing along at the top of their lungs with some songs and as parents, we are trying to be careful about what they are singing along at the top of their lungs. We were in the car the other day singing and dancing in our seats – as good church girls do – when it came to a point in the song where I felt the need for parental advisory volume drop. You know what I am saying – loud cough. My girls are not easily distracted though. They are very observant – VERY OBSERVANT. It causes me to stretch my creativity when trying to answer questions that are difficult and to also divert their attention from things to which I feel they are not ready to be exposed.
So I turn down the volume for a split second as the radio industry has stopped using filters and will play songs with explicit lyrics at any time of day. Awesome, right? We all know that music of our generation was not really any better about what they portrayed in their lyrics, but at least the radio stations or producers would release clean versions of songs to reach another audience.
Volume down. Volume up.
“Mom, why did you do that?”
“Well, there are words in this song that are bad words and I don’t want to hear them, nor do I want you to hear them.”
“Mom, why are their bad words? And why do people use them if they know they are bad words?”
Great questions! Here is a chance for me to exercise one of those lessons of the origin of something and how we make decisions about freedom of choice in this particular element of character.
I explain briefly the history of bad words and how they came to be and I explain that certain artists think that in order to be successful they must have that edge of shock value. I also take time to explain that all people from time to time struggle and sometimes slip and that they may hear these words in their everyday life from people they know, but it doesn’t mean that they are to use them.
“Yeah, even you mess up sometimes too, Mom.”
“Like sometimes when you and Daddy argue, you say the ‘S” word.”
“Oh sweetie, I am so sorry that Mommy got so upset that I failed to use proper words to speak to Daddy. That is not right. Even when I am sad or mad or frustrated, it is important that I use words that will not cause harm or leave wounds and those kinds of words are very harmful. I am sorry that I set that kind of example for you. Please, forgive me. I will try to improve that character flaw.”
“Oh mom, it’s ok. You can’t help it. You were only trying to get Daddy to quit talking so he would listen to you.”
There it is. Although slightly still embarrassed, I am now at a great place of relief. I had not said my dreaded “S” word. I had said her dreaded “S” word. She was referring to the unkind and often frowned upon for our children phrase – Shut Up! So my heart is no longer just crushed that I had allowed something completely through the filter, but at the same time, I had said something that she viewed as harmful and ugly. And really, it is. And really, that is important for me to respect and to show self-control. However, in the heat of a discussion, you typically do not hear someone in kindergarten teacher voice calmly say, “Be quiet please.”
So am I super mom? Obviously not. Do I argue with my husband making me a not so perfect wife? Yep, guilty. I am far from super or perfect anything. But I am learning every day what NOT to do so that my kids can have a better chance of being a better person than myself. My kids are under a completely different bubble of pressure as they have not only Jeremy and me as parents hovering as a label over their heads, but they also have the stereotype of preacher kids to defy. I’m not going to paint a picture that is not real for you. We are struggling sinners saved by grace. I hope that lets you know you are not alone. I also pray that you are learning alongside us as we continue this adventure called life. Little (and big) ears and eyes are watching and listening. They will mimic you in a heartbeat as they believe you would never lead them astray. Don’t miss that. They are counting on you to get them to your level properly armed for battle. Every word you say and every move you make…they are watching. (You hear that 80s song by the Police, don’t you?)
God is capable of helping you filter. However, self-discipline is just that, SELF-discipline. Be on your guard and always be ready. I know I am in need of practice and sharpening the sword today. May your day be disciplined and blessed!