We can learn a lot from dogs.
I’ve written more about our little white Lhasa Apso than I have our sweet, beautiful Cocker Spaniel, Sebastian. He’s intelligent and well-traveled, having crossed this country six times and viewed 36 of the 49 States we’ve driven through in our motorhome.
Because we rescued him and fixed his myriad of physical problems, you could say he’s been slightly spoiled with attention. Now he believes he’s very handsome. We spoil him with love, play and lots of grooming. We speak to him as we would an older child and he actually understands.
But I’m stricter than my hubby. I feel good dogs should be taught manners. When we’re eating at the table, Sebastian should know that it’s “parents” time and not play time. While Jewel lays beside us and mimics us by chewing one of her “chewies”, alas Sebastian does not. It’s not like Sebastian isn’t one smart dog. In fact once, when we returned to my mom’s home, he rushed in, ran to her bedroom and looked on top of her dresser for a stuffed bear that he found there a year and a half ago! So my point is, he’s trainable.
A dog learns from his environment, same as children. Sometimes Sebastian fusses for his food, expecting to get a dab of plain yogurt on it. If he doesn’t, he’ll pout, camp out by the bowl, going on a hunger strike. (I remember our children doing that as well.) But I’m more stubborn than Sebastian is and eventually when he gets hungry enough, he’ll eat. So did our children.
But during dinner lately he’s been vying for our attention and wants to play. My husband then tosses the Kong to him. This habit is driving me crazy because now he’s decided that it’s “his time” and not ours. As any adult knows, it’s tough to unlearn a habit!
So here’s the question: do we do the same thing with ourselves and our children? Can we resist? Or just as a child cries for a treat in the store, refusing to eat or throwing a tantrum in a public place, do we say “NO” but then give in? Even to ourselves? And what does that teach our children but to whine, fuss and disrespect authority if they don’t get their way? Spoil our children (and ourselves) with love, not things! Pamper our families with laughter, together-time and relaxation, not stress during this holiday season.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
And one more thing: If a dog lives what he learns, then so do children! Giving in to a temper tantrum instills many bad habits! If a child becomes accustomed to eating only non-nutritional foods because a parent gave in, most likely you’ll never instill self-discipline, rather they’ll “super-size me” and choose unwisely later on. If they learn that throwing a temper tantrum at home gets them what they want, then they’ll most likely be disrespectful to authority figures in the work place. Would that make you proud?
It’s the seemingly insignificant things in life that molds someone’s personality. It takes a lot of patience to have a well-mannered child. What I’ve heard in the malls this season, “But I want it now!” makes me cringe. We are becoming more of an entitlement society today and if we want it to stop, it must begin in the home!
“but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” Titus 1:8