OK. Confession: I don’t drink alcohol. My husband doesn’t drink. Our parents don’t drink. It’s just never been part of our family culture. When I was growing up, the only people in my family who drank were either dead or in jail. (No joke.)
As an adult, I’m still not interested in drinking but I do recognize not everyone ends up a wino who picks up a glass of wine! However, I’ve wondered how people who do drink expect to keep their
teenaged underaged kids from not drinking. It seems easier to just abstain than have to say, “Well, it’s OK for me! But not you!”
Then, the other day I had a conversation with a guy at church. He told me how he spoke to his 15-year-old son about alcohol. He simply said, “Watch how I drink.”
Wow. How bold is that?
He told the boy to notice that he only ordered bottled drinks at a restaurant so he could clearly gauge and keep track of how much alcohol he had consumed. He gave him other personal examples—including examples of when he had too much to drink and what to do then.
I was so impressed by this dad to bring the conversation to his son before his son had a chance to wonder or to experiment on his own. Here’s the thing—your kids are going to watch how you drink whether you tell them to or not. Are you willing to recognize those little eyes and be the example? the role model? the plumb line for how to interact with alcohol? Are you willing to apologize and course-correct when you mess up?
This isn’t only about alcohol. How about “the talk”? Our campus pastor told us he sat his tween son down to explain the birds and the bees but prefaced it with this, “We are going to begin a conversation that we will be having the rest of your life. This is not a one-time conversation. This is the start of many conversations.” Whew!
Are you able to say, “Watch how I have a healthy marriage. Watch how I keep my eyes from lust. Watch how I honor my spouse. Watch how I protect my marriage”?
What about technology? Can you say, “Watch how I unplug regularly. Watch how I rule technology and don’t let it rule me. Watch how small it is in my life”?
What areas of your life can you say “Watch how I do this”? Which ones do you not want your kids to see? Gossip? Fear? Focus on outward appearance? Work ethic?
It reminds me of what the apostle Paul told the Corinthian church, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). It’s not about being fake-perfect or play-acting what should be done. It’s not about being a Pharisee and making up your own standards and rules.
Can I really make Paul’s same statement? I have to follow Christ. Not put on a show for my kids. Follow Christ. Then, I can glance back and say, “Come on! Jump in! I’m a few steps, a few years, ahead in my walk with Jesus. Follow me as I keep my eyes on Him! Watch me!”
Are you willing to have life-long conversations with your kids? Are you willing to follow Jesus with such intensity that your children can’t keep their eyes off of you?