Caught Not Taught!

By Adina Cobham Headley

Originally Posted February 9, 2016

In my humble opinion, modeling of behaviors is one the most obvious but underrated forms of parenting! Perhaps you are familiar with that famous saying, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”. Another common saying is, “Don’t just tell me, SHOW ME”! It may also be an understatement for me to suggest that cultural norm and trends across the globe, are ‘caught’ and not necessarily ‘taught’!

Have you ever paid close attention to how babies learn first things? A wave bye-bye, Dada or Mama or first words we want to hear them say. Why just recently, my 12-month old granddaughter watched me while loading the washing machine, and within just a few minutes she grabbed a garment and quickly crawled closer to the machine intent on helping me! Ponder this a moment with me, please. Oh the power of modeling! Our offspring learn faster and mimic our actions and attitude far more quickly than they learn any other language. Talk about the power of silence! For without words, using only actions and attitudes and body language and facial expressions, we as parents, as human beings, model patterns of behaviors that can last a life time in our children. Yes, some characteristics and personality norms are hereditary and we come by them naturally. Why at the very core of human nature is the God-given right of individuality and personal choice! Even today’s developmental and psychological researchers suggest that in every culture, parents or surrogates of children are the natural first models as children mimic behaviors and grow into life patterns.  So, good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, positive or negative, societal or family norms are originally ‘caught’ and not ‘taught.  Unpolished or unwanted family traits or societal norms are only addressed, tackled or erase as we grow into adulthood and make the informed choices that would solidify or refine our individual personality.

Therefore, [in conclusion], it behooves us as parents then, to invest in personal parental inventory. A Parenting 101 if you will; of stock taking of those most important behaviors, characteristics, personality traits and habits we truly want our kids to mimic. And it behooves us to be most intentional in personal evaluation as we consider not just the physical, but the emotional and spiritual ‘natural tendencies’ we can foresee in our legacy to our children.

As a closing thought to ponder I pull from Scripture. Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he/she must go and when he/she is old/grown, he/she will not stray from it”.


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