Do you remember a time when you enjoyed dressing up like a princess, a cowboy, cowgirl, fireman, or pirate? Our granddaughters like to play school right now and emulate their teachers. Being a teacher myself, it blesses me to see them line up their dolls and teach them letters, words, or colors. I especially enjoy hearing them read stories to their “class”. They do various voices so well. It is also a bit disconcerting to hear them talk harshly to their students… have they heard me talk that way? Are they copying my tone of voice and facial expression?
Children learn roles in society, school, family, and even church by observing the people in their lives and imitating them.
A very revealing situation can be watching our children play house. If one chooses to be the mother, or the big sister, dad, baby, etc. notice the way they interact imitating that chosen role. If the “mom” acts bossy, it could be that the child sees that played out at home. Yet, it may be that the child has a personality that tends to take charge – (ask my brothers about that!) Most incriminating to me was the way the “mom” talked to the “child”. It seemed so harsh and demanding! Where did she learn that? Certainly not from me, her real mother!
Truth be told, our children do learn words, tone of voice, and even facial expressions from watching the adults in their lives. Often it is cause for laughter, sometimes it is cause for shame. A grandmother recently told me the concern she felt over some language her young grandchild has picked up. Often we don’t have control over what our children see or hear, yet personally, we can be the best example possible. I have heard adults laugh when hearing a toddler say a questionable word that the child obviously does not know the meaning of. Yet the laughter communicates pleasure and the little child will repeat those words to cause laughter again. Hint – what seems cute at 2 or 3 years old is not so cute at 10 or 12 years old.
In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul encourages us to be imitators of God. He uses the example of a well-loved child imitating his father. I think this certainly can apply to a child imitating her mother as well. I like the way the Amplified Bible translates this text.
Ephesians 5:1-2 Amplified Bible