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More Than an Example

July 29, 2013

I have heard people say that kids need examples to follow, someone to emulate. This is undeniably true – kids definitely need examples.  No person ever came out of the womb knowing exactly what to do at all times without seeing how something is done. Even Jesus said that he could do nothing without his Father.

Yet I would argue that an example is not enough. Kids need even more than that. They need guidance. Instruction. Hands-on care.

Perhaps every boy that grew up with a father in the home used to watch him in awe when he shaved. Perhaps some boys learned to shave just by watching and studying. But no amount of observation can substitute for the experience of a father teaching his son how to shave. The interaction not only transfers skills in a quicker (and maybe safer) manner, it also builds bonds that are not easily comprehensible.

I still remember my father teaching me how to shave. It didn’t actually happen until I was in my twenties (I used an electric shaver before then). I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen my father shave. I had a visible example of how to do it. But it wasn’t until my father took the time to teach me that I really learned to shave. To this day, every single time I put a razor to my face, I think about the lessons my father gave me on shaving.

It’s not always easy to take the time to teach a kid something. It can frustrating and seem pointless at times. Instead, adults often think that just by being an example, by modeling certain behavior, that they’ve done their job. This is incorrect. Just because a kid sees a parent put on a suit everyday doesn’t necessarily mean that kid will develop a great work ethic or even want to put on a suit themselves. Just being an example without meaningful engagement is a lazy way to interact with kids.

Let me say it again: it’s lazy to just be an example without meaningful engagement. Lazy.

Kids might do what they see adults do, but they will more likely do what adults do with them.

It takes work to be more than an example. But that’s what kids need.

From → Commentary

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