Unexpected Observers

Hear, my sons, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. ~Proverbs 1:8


My husband follows the same routine every morning as he gets ready for work, and every evening when he comes home. Coat, briefcase, computer, and lunch containers. He does the same thing with them every day. Our grandson, Bruce, when he was younger, was observing it all.

One night, my husband had a meeting. He ran home from work, dropped his computer and briefcase in the living room, ate dinner, and headed out to the meeting.  After he left, we finished dinner and Bruce – who had few words but no problem communicating – came to me at the kitchen sink and slapped me on the leg.  When I looked at him he was pointing to the living room.  “What buddy?”  I asked.  He took my hand and went to the living room and showed me my husband’s stuff on the floor as if to say, “This isn’t right.”  I explained that “Pops” would be back later and take it where it belonged. That satisfied him and he went to play.

The next day I was telling my husband the story because I thought it was funny that Bruce had such a sense of order at such a young age.  (Just like his Dad and Pops!)

Then, my husband told me that in the morning of that day, Bruce had been awake when “Pops” had gone through his morning routine of getting his breakfast ready and making his coffee.  As he was pouring the coffee into his travel mug, Bruce came to him with his keys.  “Pops” scolded him for playing with the keys and took them from him.

Later in the day, he said he realized that Bruce had not been playing with his keys, the next thing in his normal routine would have been to pick up his keys.  Bruce was bringing the keys to him knowing it was next!  He was trying to help.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life how often do we miss what our little children are doing and saying?  This was an act of kindness from a 21-month-old.  We assume we know their little hearts, when maybe – if we stopped to consider what things look like to them – we would see they are imitating us (for better or worse).   Pops was pretty disappointed that he hadn’t recognized what Bruce was doing when he did it.

The Bible is very clear about our responsibility to teach our children the commands of God and to know His Word.  (Deuteronomy 6:6-8)  No matter how intentional we are about that, what are we teaching that we do not intend?  Knowing that a 21-month-old can know the specifics of our routines should cause us to stop and think about their ability to understand what they see and hear.

If children live in our homes, we can expect that they are observing and listening. All. The. Time.

Paul warned the Philippians to be careful about what example they followed.  He said, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us (Philippians 3:17).”

As unexpected as it may be children are watching, and will imitate us. What are they learning from us?


Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Beth Bingaman
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  1. Diane on April 11, 2018 at 8:34 AM

    ‘…what are we teaching that we do not intend?’ Even if they don’t live in our homes and watch our every move, this is true with every interaction with our grandchildren, with our neighbors’ kids, with the children of friends. Being authentic in our life of faith has so many ways to influence – for good or not so good – if we are not tending to it. Thanks for the reminder, Beth, that teaching is more than just the intentional ‘lessons’ but also the unintended.

  2. Diane Tarantini on April 11, 2018 at 11:57 AM

    Great post, Beth! Your little Bruce is one smart and observant guy. This reminds me of the time when our oldest was two. We had to initiate a cuss-cup system once she began blurting a certain 4-letter word.

    And now that our youngest is 18, what a blessing it is to see him having his quiet time at the kitchen table just like I do. Most of the time…

    They are indeed watching and listening!

  3. Cole // Cole Smith Writes on April 11, 2018 at 12:34 PM

    Humbling! We try to remember: “More is caught than taught.”

  4. Jen on April 11, 2018 at 1:45 PM

    Not much else cleans a parents’ act up quicker than seeing their own behavior on display in their child. 🙂

  5. Sarah Robinson on April 11, 2018 at 5:21 PM

    This Post reminded me of our granddaughters, and how closely the study the adults around them. “Out of the mouths of babes…” was likely coined following one of their spot-on reflections.

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