On Saturday night we had dinner with friends who were visiting from out-of-town. When all of us had been served our food, I felt a small hand grabbing mine. My son was holding my hand and the hand of our friend sitting next to him. My partner looked at me as if to say, “What is he doing?”. I replied, “He wants to pray before we eat like we do at home.” We both took a deep breath and all joined hands. At home, we hold hands and pray before we eat dinner. Our prayer is usually a song which this son likes to belt out in various styles including opera. We weren’t quite sure what to expect.
I looked at him and said, “Really?” He bowed his head, I took another deep breath, and he began speaking:
“Thank you, dear God, for this precious day. Please guide me in love as I learn, grow, and play. Amen.”
Phew. My dismay turned to a smile and my heart was full of pride, we kissed each others hands (again, like we do at home) and began to eat.
I had an immediate appreciation for the importance of modeling for our kids. If I had wanted our son to do what he did, he probably would have kicked and screamed and refused. Instead, he had seen this act modeled for him in the past and wanted to continue the routine, plus it was extra special to him that he got to lead our friends through our ritual.
Now there are many things that I model for my children which they subsequently imitate that do not give me pride and that are not flattering at all. I suppose this is true for any parent. But this experience reminded me of the importance of trying to live a life that we want our children to live. Lately, I have been involved with conversations concerning underage drug and alcohol use and abuse and bullying. While it may be that our children need more education and more awareness, I believe that the most important factor in affecting our children’s lives is for adults to reflect on their own actions in the world and to model the change they want to see.