“Caught not Taught”… that’s how James Dobson describes how children learn. I was at a Homeschool Moms breakfast last week and the speaker referred to that statement… caught not taught. She used the example of a cold… we don’t intentionally go out and try to spread our germs, but when we cough or sneeze or forget to wash our hands, the germs spread.
My two year old has a cold. She has been coughing almost non stop for two days. She tries to cover her mouth… but she forgets. She wants to wash her hands and wipe her nose… but this results in puddles in the bathroom and a trail of snotty tissues down the hall. She is a cuddler and just wants to be held and snuggled. She keeps walking up to me and saying “I (cough) need my (cough) mommy (cough, cough).” Each one of those coughs pointed right at my face. And wouldn’t you know it… I woke up this morning with a sore throat and sniffles.
Caught… not taught.
Just as my two year old has been spewing germs all over the house, I am constantly spewing lessons all over my children. They learn from what they see… what they hear… how they are treated… the expectations placed on them.
I can tell my girls all day long that they are beautiful and that God loves them just the way they are… but do they hear me sigh as I look in the mirror, complain as I point out my love handles, groan as I try to squeeze into my jeans. Do they see the disgust I have of my own body and the way that I don’t believe the words that I tell them about beauty apply to myself. I am not a big make up wearer or one to dress up with nice clothes or jewelry… but my attitude about myself communicated volumes to my girls.
Where do my children find their worth?
I can tell my son all day long that he is special and that God has gifted him and has a great plan for him.. but those are simply words if I continually sigh when he comes bounding into the living room and jumps on my sofa… when he builds towers in his room only to loudly knock them over… when he takes fifteen minutes to explain some scene out of the latest boxcar children book he’s read when I need to be getting dinner ready. Am I communicating that I think he’s special when I am constantly shuffling him off to his room or outside just so I can have some time to myself or get dinner going or change a diaper or feed a baby.
Caught… not taught.
When I tell my children that they are loved just as they are by God and mommy and daddy, but I constantly pick apart the way they clean their rooms and go behind them to make it right… I am communicating that they just don’t measure up to my standard.
I have some great speeches in my mommy bank.. about how to treat others, how to respect mommy and daddy, care for the less fortunate, do all things with excellence, do all things without complaining and disputing… I have verses and examples to back all of it up… but really… it’s all for naught if I’m not walking the walk.
What legacy am I leaving my children? What memories will they have? What are they picking up from me from day to day? How am I telling them I love them with my actions and attitudes?
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. I Corinthians 13:1
I do not want to just be a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal!