The secret to loving your children well is showing them how to live well through the choices you make. One of my girls is pregnant. It was surprising to me how many foods and medicines she has been told to avoid for the health of her baby. One of them is lunch meat. I think that is all I ate with my third pregnancy just 23 years ago! Much new research has improved what we know about protecting the health of children in the womb.
But what about protecting children in the home? The cultural acceptability of daily weed, wine, and prescription pills is endemic. Have we stopped to consider that what we do, in front of our children, might be just as dangerous as what we do to our children in the womb?
Kids learn more from what you do than what you say. That is a lot of pressure! But if you carefully consider your choices, you may spare your children from making a worse choice. We have to seriously consider and research the implications of our actions and lifestyle choices. I hear so many moms say, “everyone does it, it’s fine.” Crowdsourcing opinions about what’s best for your child’s future is risky parenting. God gave your child to you for you to protect! And you must do your own research in the Word and in the world. You can’t just do what everyone else is doing without thinking about the impact it may have on your watching, learning child.
Here are 4 common choices I have researched that can negatively impact your child’s future choices.
1. If you smoke weed… then your kids are at risk to smoke at a young age.
Canada recently legalized marijuana, and the legalization trend is moving across the U.S. Moms need to know that if they smoke pot their kids are more likely to start smoking at a younger age than kids of moms who don’t.
According to WebMD, “Marijuana use among children…is linked to problems with attention, concentration, decision-making and working memory. Young people may experience prolonged impulsivity for weeks after using the drug and reductions in IQ, anxiety, symptoms of depression and other thinking problems that last into adulthood.”
2. If you drive recklessly… then your kids are at risk for driving dangerously.
The flip side applies as well; if you drive safely, your kids are more likely to be careful on the road. Parents are the number one influencer of how their teens will drive.
The Center for Disease Control says, “…if you are a heavy drinker, you increase your child’s chances of following your example by threefold.”
Kids who see their parents tipsy or drunk are “less likely to see them as a positive role model.” These kids also feel embarrassed and anxious when their parents drink too much. And this is sad… one study found that 11- and 12-year-olds described alcohol as “like sugar for adults” and said parents drink to “solve their problems”.
The good news? If you express a negative attitude toward abusive drinking or drugs, your children will take that into consideration as he decides to drink or not.
3. If you don’t resolve conflict well… then your kids will have conflict issues too.
Our children need to see us resolve conflict in a healthy way. They need to see that people can disagree and still act respectfully. They also need to see that two people can still care about each other after a fight.
Resolving conflict well also teaches our children how to handle their own anger, that even though they may feel angry, they can still control the way they express it. This skill can help them avoid strong feelings like hatred and bitterness, and the consequences and hurt of broken relationships.
So today, do your best to live well so you can love your children well by showing them how to make good choices that will give them a better life.