“Our most impactful parental teaching is our example.”

art by Sadie Harper

There was a sweet, pregnant dog who got her legs stuck in a riding lawn mower. The family was devastated.

She couldn’t use those legs again, but miraculously she was able to deliver all of her babies safely.

The mama pup learned to use her front paws to scooch wherever she needed to go.

And, when her babies first learned to walk, guess what these perfectly healthy puppies did? They scooched on their front paws. Just like their mama.

I’ve thought about that story a lot since I heard my friend tell the story of her grandma’s farm dog.

In D&C 68:28, it states “And parents shall also ​​​teach​ their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.”

Kids are always watching what you do. And, despite what it might seem at times, they are listening to what you say too.

The power of our words and our modeling cannot be overstated—as seen in that sweet puppy story.

BUT I think it’s important to remember, our job is to teach, model and inspire by the spirit. Not to create perfect children.

When I think of teaching my kids, I also think of a low moment when I cried to my husband and asked how I could teach a certain behavior better because I was obviously doing something wrong judging on the results.

And he said, “Mary, you are in charge of teaching them and modeling for them, and you’ve done it. They know what is right. That doesn’t mean they will always pick it. Their agency is not your job. Loving and teaching is.”

We model, teach, inspire, and then—

leave space for grace.

And ALWAYS choose love as your children work out their own salvation.

Because love is patient…and kind.

And you never know when your modeling will sink in.

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