Our family spent a few days with the Robertson family in Louisiana, and Korie gifted me a copy of her book. It meant a lot to me because my daughter Anna recently had this conversation:
Over the holidays three of my adult daughters were visiting. When I came out the the living room early one morning half a dozen daughters were gathered around the fireplace reading their Bibles, writing in their prayer journals and listening to worship music. And I said, “How am I so blessed that my children are truly following Jesus? So many of the people I know are complaining that their adult kids and teens are rebelling against their faith.” Anna said to me, “You and dad are not hypocrites. You showed us a faith worth following, and always live what you believe. You and dad were authentic.”
I’m at a coffee shop this morning, with Josh, Anna and my daughter Christina. Everyone is having their devotional time. I brought my copy of “Strong & Kind” that my friend Korie wrote. I’ve met four of Korie and Willie’s six children and was amazed at how faith and love glowed in the hearts and hospitality of each member of the family. Rarely have I met other families with young adult children so passionate about the faith they grew up with. I wanted to know what was at the heart of their parenting victory. So here I am in Chapter 20. This morning. I asked Korie if I could share her wise words with all of you.
It seems that society today is clamoring for something real. Organic and all natural are buzzwords for everything from food to clothing to body lotion. Could it be that we’re finally done with fake? I doubt it. Along with all the talk of going back to a more natural approach to living, our magazines and television screens are full of ads for products that include fake eyelashes, fake nails, fake tans, fake food, fake hair, and fake fur, There’s still plenty of fake to go around.
But fake things don’t last–well, except for Twinkies and Spam. Those have been around forever. Eventually, the fake tan fades and the eyelashes fall off. Fortunately, we’re usually at home when that happens, which is the best place to get rid of fake anything. In the interest of full disclosure, when you’re in the entertainment business, there are times for fake hair, false eyelashes, and a spray tan. It’s fun to feel glam for one night or for a photo shoot, but it feels even better to get home and take it all off. Home is where we can be ourselves, take off our makeup, put on our stretchy pants, and just be. But being real in our homes can be more complex than just being free to walk around in a pair of sweatpants and our husband’s T-shirt.
What exactly does it mean to be real? Here are several questions I want to explore as we talk about being real in our homes and as parents.
Do we try to appear one way to the world while acting differently at home?
Is the life we’re living true to how God made us?
Are we allowing our kids to see that being real can sometimes be messy?
Do You Act Differently in Public Than at Home?
Let’s discuss the first question. Kids are damaged when the inside of the family home doesn’t match the outside impression.
I’m talking about parents who put on a front to appear one way to everyone around them but then come home where they’re totally different people. Nobody likes a hypocrite, yet I think that’s exactly what our children see and think of us sometimes. They may not know the term or how to articulate it, but they see it, and it will affect them negatively. It will impact the level of respect they have for adults and how they approach and interact with the world as they grow up.
A very common reason people give for leaving the church is they’re convinced it’s full of hypocrites. A hypocrite is a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, or principles that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions contradict stated beliefs. A perfect example is a person bragging about her humility.
Hypocrites are deceivers and pretenders, so they may put on a false show of humility so that others will notice and commend them. Are we doing that in our homes?
Are we pretending that values such as honesty, kindness, patience, goodness, and self-control are important to us while living lives at home that demonstrate the opposite? Are you doing that? We do this when we gossip- we may be kind to others when face-to-face with them but belittle them behind dosed doors.
We do this when we lie about little things, perhaps saying, “Tell them I’m not home,” when someone calls.
We do it when we tell our kids not to tell their daddy how much money we spent at the mall. Yes, it’s a problem when we appear to be one way in public and another way at home. It’s also a problem when we burnish our appearance as the perfect little family when we’re out in public but spend our time yelling and fighting behind closed doors.
Don’t get me wrong. We’ve all had those moments when we’ve argued and griped right up until the time we walked through the doors of the church building, then quickly changed our tone and thrown a smile on our faces. If moments like that are just moments, there’s no need to worry. Nobody’s perfect. But when moments like that define your family, it’s time to take a good look and make the changes necessary to really become the family you want others to think you are.
Have you seen the apps that can Photoshop or adjust your pictures to perfection? In seconds your skin can be flawless, your teeth glowing white, and any stray hairs smoothed into shape. While it’s natural to want to put your best face forward, it’s never good to present yourself as something you’re not. Our family is often asked to do photo shoots, and when I am asked to choose, of course I always want to pick the best version of me. However, I don’t ever want to pick a “fake” me, or a picture that has been doctored so much that it doesn’t look like the real me.
Why do we work so hard to show others our best selves?
Why do we give our best selves to the ones who matter to us the least?
Then when we get home to the people we love the most and who love us the most, we offer them our worst our gripe-y, unloving, selfish selves.
I truly believe that being inconsistent with who you are, being one way at home and presenting yourself to the world as something else, is one of the most destructive things you can do as a parent. When we do this, we’re asking our children to live a lie.
Kids learn values by watching our actions, and this type of hypocrisy confuses them and diminishes their respect for us. You may not see this affecting your children when they are young, but during their teenage years, you’ll definitely see the damage.
What I’m talking about in this chapter, being real, is not about whether you stay in your pajamas all day and then dress up to go out with friends. It’s about your value system and the way you treat others.
Certainly, we must act differently in the workplace or for a dinner out than we do at home. No one expects you to act exactly the same way at a board meeting as you would playing UNO with the kids. That would be silly. How we behave is one thing; what motivates that behavior is another. Whether our actions show the values by which we claim to live is the key here.
I’ve learned a few things in my twenty years of parenting. One is to never expect your children to do what you won’t do. Willie and I know that if we want our children to view our value system as real and something important to live by, our own actions have to match our values.
Leading by example is the number one way to teach children any behavior you want them to have. Kids respond better to “Do as I do” than to “Do as I say.” Jesus came to this earth not only to offer Himself as a sacrifice but also to be our example of how to live. God knew that His children need an example, a pattern to follow. Our children need one too.” (excerpted from Chapter 20, “Be Real” in Korie Robertson’s book, Strong and Kind.)
On February 6th (TODAY!!!) Anna will be a guest on Sadie Robertson Huff’s Podcast! Listen here: https://youtube.com/@SadieRobertson or here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/whoa-thats-good-podcast/id1433974017