The Hidden Treasure

Where Ancient Wisdom Meets Contemporary Psychology

Do As I Do, Not As I Say!

Written By: Vic Rebman Ph.D - Mar• 01•15
Contemplation #9

There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and  work today in the vineyard.’

‘I will not’  he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, Sir,’  but he did not go.

Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

(Matthew 21:28-31)

In the parable of the two sons, Jesus makes a simple, albeit, forceful statement of the power of actions over words. Jesus originally offered the parable as a means of stressing the fact that God’s kingdom of peace, joy, and eternal life is not found by “right words,” but rather by “right action.” It’s not important what we say we are willing to do, but rather what we actually do.

If the intentions of one’s heart match one’s words and they do what they say they will do; if they do not, then they will not. The most accurate way to evaluate someone’s true character is to watch what they do, and observe how often what they do mirrors what they say. This is because what we consistently do reflects the deepest values we hold in our heart. It is for this reason  Jesus said,”Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.”

The truth we speak of here is the foundation not only of one’s character, but also of effective parenting. Clinical research has established beyond any doubt that young children learn far more by what  parents do, than what they say. In fact, research in the field of clinical psychology supports Freud’s contention that the vast majority of adult character is shaped in the first seven years of life, and is done so primarily by what they observe. It’s no surprise, that the research also indicates that the most influential models in a child’s life are their parents, or significant caregivers. Parents teach their children, and mold their character, not by what they say, but by what they consistently do.

This is why effective parenting requires the ability to honestly evaluate oneself. To raise healthy children, we must be healthy ourselves, because what we consistently do is observed and internalized by our children. This is why  a child’s self-esteem can be no stronger than that of their parents. Likewise the ability to love and forgive, as well as the attributes of patience, tolerance, and compassion are internalized, or falter in their development, depending upon what a child observes in their parents through the first decade of life.

Can character and loving attributes be developed later in life? The answer is , Yes! The ability to create positive change as adults is within all of us at any times. The question is never, “Can I change?”, but rather , “Am I ready to do whatever it takes to change?” However, the most influential period of development for children is the first decade. This means that as parents we must always remember The Golden Rule of Effective Parenting: children learn by what we do, not what we say.

Parent and Child at Sunset

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *