On Saturday I wrote about whether I thoroughly teach my children how to do things, rather than just telling them what to do.  The example I used was in teaching my girls to write thank you notes after receiving a gift.  The implication of teaching or telling goes much farther than just writing notes.

Thinking back over my childhood, I have no recollection of being taught by my parents.  I recall being told to do this or that, with maybe a brief demonstration, but nothing that I would consider teaching. Granted, my folks may claim otherwise and my memory may be faulty.  Nevertheless, the absence of any such memory may be an indication that any teaching they did offer was lacking in some way.

This lack of training has become quite evident in recent years as my family has expanded and my domestic responsibilities have increased.

Case in point: I wish I was taught how to cook.  I do okay in a kitchen, I can usually follow a recipe and occasionally, by divine intervention, I produce something delectable, but overall, I lack some basic cooking knowledge.  Oh, how I wish I was taught how to cook.  How to time a meal so that my chicken isn’t ready 30 minutes before the rice is done (not to say that ever happens!  Bless my patient husband).

I know I spent time in the kitchen with my mom growing up.  I received tips here and there.  But there was no methodical, intentional instructing on how to cook, how to plan a meal, make a grocery list, do the shopping, prep the food, time the cooking, present the meal.  Such skills are what life is made of, and I am sorely lacking.

If I think long enough, I’m sure I could come up with a long list of areas in which I lack proper teaching and training.  But looking back isn’t the point.

The point is looking forward.

It’s looking at my girls and my son, who will one day, by God’s grace, be grown women and men, in need of real world skills.  As I go about my daily life, am I instructing them or merely telling them?

As I vacuum, am I explaining the need to get all the way to the walls, even in the corners?

As I dust, with them at my side with their little rags, am I patiently showing them how to cover the entire surface, folding the rag as it gets dirty?

Am I repeating that lesson again and again until they fully understand, or do I show them once, and expect them to ‘just get it.?’

Am I walking with them, side by side?  Or am I standing off to the side with expectations that are unreasonable due to my lack of patient teaching and training?

I am good at telling my girls to clean up their room, but have I really taught them how to do that?  Have I showed them more than once?  Have I explained the how while cleaning up with them, or do I just say, “come on girls, clean up” as I hurriedly put things away?  Have I walked through this with them day after day for a week, or longer, until they truly understood, or in my impatience have I expected a 2 and 4-year-old to be room experts after a single, half-hearted attempt to show them what to do?

May my eyes be opened to other areas where I fall short in this way and may I become more intentional about changing my pattern from mere telling to one of patience, persistent teaching.