I’m Watching You

I'm Watching You

Today as I was sitting in church I saw a young mother look down at her 7-year old son and make the sign with her fingers “I’m watching you.” The look on his little face was priceless. He understood what that simple gesture meant immediately. He knew he was loved, that his mother was watching his behavior and that she had high expectations of him. It struck me how this little moment between mother and son demonstrated so much about what is important when raising children.

I have heard the saying that it takes a community to raise a child. I have also raised two children and I am still working on the third, she is a work in progress! One of my most challenging bucket list items was to raise three children and help them become the most amazing adults they could be, a tall order indeed.

Just how do you go about getting a small infant from their childhood, safely and effectively to adulthood, and more importantly, how do you teach a child what is right and wrong? How do you build the highest of character into this adult in the making?

I think you do it with a lot of help. It does take a community; it takes teachers who put their heart and soul into each lesson expecting more and more from each student every day. It takes parents, who model what is expected, who live a life of integrity and faith daily. It takes an extended family of aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents who all add a little spice to the recipe, each offering their own perspective and setting their own high standards. I also personally believe it takes a faith community.

My husband and I have tried to raise our three kids with our faith as the central component. As a family we have tried to be active members in our church and have tried to help each child find a way to fit in and contribute and be a steward to their faith community.

Our daughter found her place in the youth choir. She found her voice in the songs and with each song she sang she grew before the eyes of our congregation. She learned how to use her gift from God for good, how to share her faith through the songs. I think it would be safe to say, she experienced her faith through her music. This courage helped her overcome those awkward teenage years of feeling insecure. She not only developed her voice, she developed her character standing in front of the congregation leading songs. She learned along the way that others were watching her and had high expectations of her. This helped hold her accountable for her actions as she explored her teenage world.

Our son experienced similar lessons, but in a slightly different way. He participated in the church youth program and found his way by joining the youth work camp missions. He was expected to participate in many fundraising events so he could raise his own $800 to go on the one-week work camp missions. He learned to cook in the church basement kitchen slinging breakfast for hundreds. He helped run the games during Turkey Bingo and collected donations for the Silent Auction. After all his hard work he got to travel with 40 of his youth peers to Utah and South Dakota and then spend a week in the hot summer sun painting houses for elderly poor.

He learned the world was bigger than his home. He learned that giving to others often helps us more than the intended recipient. He learned that it felt good to set the bar high and then exceed it. He learned that others were watching him and had high expectations of him. I believe this helped hold him accountable for his actions as he explored his teenage world.

I can’t say that I am done with this bucket list item, I do still have a young daughter to raise, but I can say confidently that my husband and I have succeeded in raising two amazing young adults. I know without a doubt that they knew they were loved, that we, their parents were watching their behavior, and that we both had high expectations of them. By helping our children get involved in their faith community they also learned others were watching them and had high expectations of them. We still do.

I’m watching you…

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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