Your child’s agency is not your job – loving and teaching is.

art by Celeste Clark

A couple years ago we didn’t have a bath at our house, so I would just throw on a swimsuit and shower with my kids. 

One day, I was in the shower with one child and the other child just. wasn’t. coming. I was having to get in and out of the shower, getting the floor wet. I finally said in a very firm, very impatient voice, “COME HERE.”

And at that exact moment, my son said, “Look, Mom! I am walking in your footsteps!” as he carefully put his small feet exactly in my wet footprints on the ground.

In Moses 6:58 it states: “Therefore I give unto you a ​​​commandment​, to ​​​teach​ these things freely unto your ​​​children​.”

The power of our words and our modeling cannot be overstated. I (re)learned an important lesson that day—my words and actions matter. My kids are watching and walking in my footsteps, sometimes literally.

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 moment when I talked to my husband, trying desperately to figure out how I could teach a certain behavior better because I was obviously doing something wrong.

He said, “Mary, you are in charge of teaching them and modeling for them, and you’ve done it. They know what is right and wrong. 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.

All you can do is teach freely,

And try to make sure your footsteps lead towards Christ.

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