Let’s make it simple. Stop telling your children to treat others better than you are choosing to treat them. Stop telling them to follow the Golden Rule when you yourself show the opposite. Guidance and redirection doesn’t have to be put downs and intentionally hurtful.
Parenting is hard. And we mess up. But we are the parents, and if we want to raise great children we have to do more than focus on their flaws. I am guessing that you probably don’t like it when others focus on yours. I don’t. My guess is that you deny your flaws instead of admitting them. Big mistake if you have children. Mine are staring me in the face, so I don’t deny them or try to hide them. They need to see you embrace your quirks, show humility, forgiveness, grace, and just take some things with a grain of salt.
I know my struggles, and I don’t deny them. It doesn’t give me an excuse. But my children need to see that I am loved for the way I am. And my children need to be loved for who they are. They are not like me, and it is not my job to make them be like someone else. God made them in His image, he has a great plan for their life. Our job is to make sure they follow Him to the best of their ability. And that will not happen if you are breeding those feelings of not being good enough.
I try to make sure that I have just as many if not more positive things to say to them as when I have to redirect them. They don’t always agree with me and they won’t. But if I am doing it our of love and genuine care, they will know.
So let’s just stick with something we all know. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Unless you are willing to love that child like you love yourself, leave them alone. Just let those that love them sincerely keep the reins. I promise that your negative banter is NOT encouraging them to seek your approval. It is NOT pushing them to look up to you. It is NOT showing a godly example of love. What it is showing is an example of pride, ego, insecurity of self, and hate. And those are NOT the things I want my children to grow up with.
I want them to know that I discipline out of love. I don’t do it cause it’s fun. It’s not. You can ask them cause I tell them all the time: “I am hard on you because I love you. I am hard on you because I want you to grow up and be a great example to others. I want you to make good choices and have good manners. I am hard on you because I want you to grow up to be children of God.”