My 4-year-old has this horrible habit of talking back to her Papi and me.  When we tell her to do something, we often get a reflex, smart answer back.  Even when she goes on to obey, her mouth reveals whats in her heart, and it ain’t pretty.  But where in the world does she get that??

I have 2 answers…and the second answer I don’t like so much.

Firstly, she gets it from her sin nature.  Her ‘exceedingly wicked’ heart is prone to disrespect, not respect.  In many regards, that’s the easy answer, because the other answer is, she gets it from me.

The other night at dinner my husband made a comment.  For the life of me, I cannot remember exactly what was said, or what the actual topic was, but for a point of illustration, I’ll create a scenario that could easily have occurred.  Warning, this ain’t gonna be pretty.

I was refilling Annabella’s plate, and hubby says, ‘don’t give her too many potatoes, it hurts her belly.’  My mouth quietly spews out, ‘no it doesn’t, as I serve her some more food, trying to avoiding picking up a potato.

As soon as those words came out of my mouth I thought to myself, ‘where did that come from??’  It was a total reflex.  I didn’t think up this disrespectful response.  I wasn’t plotting a way to cut him down.  No, the words came out before I really even thought about it.  It was a sad realization that my heart response to my husbands loving direction was not gratitude and submission, but rebellion and disrespect.

This wasn’t the first time something like this has happened either.  But thankfully I am starting to recognize these occurences more quickly, and it is a somewhat rare occurrence (I think.  Maybe I ought to ask hubby).

As soon as these words came out, I also thought, ah, no wonder why Abigail does that.  I could have said, ‘okay.’  I could have said nothing.  Instead I answered back smartly, showing a lack of respect for my husband.  I communicated with those few words, in front of my children, that I know more than him, and that his opinion does not count and does not deserve respect.

How in the world is Abigail going to learn proper respect for her Papi when she sees the opposite modeled by her Mami?

The heart issue isn’t going away.  Her heart is exceedingly wicked, and we will be addressing her innate sinfulness for quite a while.  But I do not need to complicate the matter by offering up a poor example.

Learning to show respect for others, starting with our Papi, begins with me.