What My Children Have Taught Me

A mentor can be defined as someone one who is committed to developing a person to his maximum potential for Jesus Christ. I have had many mentors throughout my lifetime. Countless individuals have enriched my life in more ways than I can express. My mentor list would include family, friends, pastors, teachers, coaches, professionals and many others. Each one having shaped and molded my life in different ways. When I think about those who have made me the man I am today, two individuals stand near the top of the list. Oddly, these two probably don’t even realize what they’ve done for me. Taylor and Madalyn, my daughters, are two of my greatest mentors.

Consider for a moment all the things your children have taught you. I recently saw an e-mail entitled “What My Children Have Taught Me” that included things that kids have taught like cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy; wear a hat when feeding seagulls; plastic toys do not like ovens, super glue is forever; when your mom is mad at your dad, don't let her brush your hair; when your dad is mad and asks you, “Do I look stupid?” don't answer him; and “Play Dough” and “microwave” should never be used in the same sentence.

Great Teachers Can Come in Little Packages

This humorous list got me thinking about my own kids and all the things they’ve taught me. Here are a few of the many lessons I’ve learned from watching my daughters.

  1. When you’re hurt, a kiss is the best medicine. Any time one of our girls gets hurt, she will immediately show me the wound and ask for a “smooch.” In life, I’ve learned that when people are hurting, tenderness and compassion is where my help must begin.
  2. Sleep in your clothes so you'll be dressed in the morning. In life, instead of living exclusively in the moment we must prepare for tomorrow. As a family, do you have long-term goals? If your answer is “no,” then I encourage you to develop a family mission statement. Your long-range goals or mission will help shape what you do today.
  3. When in doubt, ask “why?” It sometimes can feel like my daughters’ questions are like a bottomless pit—they never seem to end. Although I’d be lying if I didn’t say their questions do get old after they’ve been asked for the sixty-seventh time. Questions like why do puppies still have bad breath even after eating a tic-tac? Why do cats hate water? Or why did God make prunes? In life, one of the greatest qualities we can possess is a teachable spirit. Asking questions is the best way to be teachable because a question implies that you do not have all the answers.
  4. A good sense of humor will get you through most problems in life. Of all the things my girls have taught me, this is probably my favorite. Listening to their laughter and watching their play has encouraged me to have fun in life. Life should be enjoyed. I encourage you to recapture that child-like quest for fun and enjoyment. Much like we are commanded in the Scriptures, “A joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22); “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face” (Proverbs 15:13); and “There is an appointed time for everything…A time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 4).

I encourage you to watch your children with inquisitive eyes. God will use them to help develop you into your maximum potential for Jesus Christ if you are looking. As your children lay down tonight, thank them for being your mentor. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man [woman or child] sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

Greg Smalley, PsyD
Website | + posts

Dr. Smalley previously served as the director of Marriage Ministries for The Center for Healthy Relationships. He is the author or co-author of twelve books concerning marriages and families, and currently serves as the executive director of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email