Man with son

Becoming a better parent: Avoiding “Do as I say, not as I do”

Our Westview team member, Terry Owens, continues our series, Becoming a Better Parent. In this article, Terry warns us against the inconsistency of saying “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Dad:     “Where’d you learn to talk like that?”

Son:     “I’ve been watching you dad, ain’t that cool; I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you.”

This phrase from Rodney Akins’ song, “Watching You,” is a son’s response when his dad asks where he learned the four-letter word he said. The dad, to say the least, was convicted. All parents have had moments with their children where it becomes obvious that our behavior is the problem.  What was your response at that moment? Was it something your child heard you say or something you did?

Each generation learns from the generation before them. We parent the way we were parented. I know that I learned how to interact with people through my parents’ teaching and modeling. My dad told me as a child, “You do not always have to respect the person, but you must respect the chair they sit in.” He strengthened his teaching by living up to his own standard.

As adults, we need to be mindful of how we speak and how we act—all the time. You never know when your children or grandchildren might be watching. Observing others is a natural part of the learning process for children, and they will repeat what they hear and see. If we want our children to grow to be a person of integrity with good moral standards, we as parents need to give our children good teaching and modeling. The scriptures tell us, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2: 7-8).

As a child, I had a friend whose dad was a smoker. My friend took one of his dad’s cigarettes for us to smoke. His dad caught us and told us that “Smoking is a bad habit, and you shouldn’t do it!” My friend replied, “You smoke; why can’t we?” His dad said, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

That was the first time I heard those words. Think about that statement. It’s an excuse for adults to do things they shouldn’t, and a justification to punish children for following their example. This is an unacceptable practice, and our children deserve better.

Be careful how you interact with individuals or businesses you don’t like. Make sure that you are respectful during that contact. Don’t wait until you get out of earshot and they say ugly things about them that you wouldn’t say to their face. You may have little eyes watching.  We have a responsibility to our children to teach and exhibit true character. We need to help our children to understand that people of integrity show their character when they know people are watching and when they think no one is watching.

We are here to help and support our community. Feel free to contact us if we can help in any way: