This post was written by Michelle Duggar. Photo of Jordyn Grace Duggar/Photo credit: DCI.
In our book, "A Love that Multiplies," we discuss the importance of character qualities that we try to cultivate in our kids and in ourselves. I really thought about which character qualities were the most important to introduce to the children when they were very little.
And I really felt like that the Lord showed me the number one character quality -- the first one that I felt that each of them needed to develop in their life --was attentiveness, being sensitive to those around them so that I could have the right response.
It's important that when I call their names I get their eyes and have their attention, because if I don't get their eyes I don't have their heart. And the reason that I felt like that was so important, especially when you've got toddlers, is that they can act like they don't hear you.
You may think that they don't understand what you're saying, but in reality they do; and they are very smart and they know more than what you think they know. As time went by I realized that it's just a matter of whether or not they want to pay attention to what you're saying or asking.
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But then I realized it's even deeper than all of that -- it's really not about me, it's more for their heart and for their life. When I get their attention what I'm really doing is I'm teaching them to love God by when they learn to look at mommy and honor my words, honor my voice and hear what I'm saying.
My prayer is that they're going to learn to do that with their Lord, with their Heavenly Father as they get older and they have that relationship that develops with Him, that they will hear Him, that still, small voice, and honor and listen to what God's telling them to do. As we were raising our first little ones we began to really understand the deeper message of why it's so important to be attentive, not just in our family.
There are so many good character qualities, 49 in all, and there are probably more we need to be seeking and building our lives around. Because when we do that we're modeling behavior for our kids. We're all on a journey through life and even my husband Jim Bob and I are still learning these character qualities because we're coming up against a different challenge and a different season of life, and I've still have to learn attentiveness myself.
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Just the other day I was saying something to one of my little guys and reaffirming the right response that should have taken place when something happened between the kids, "What should you have done? How do you think your brother felt when you did that? Would you want somebody to do that to you?" I was trying to bring it back to the character quality that they should have demonstrated in that situation.
And as soon as the words came out of my mouth it was just as if God was saying, "Now, Michelle, are you doing the same thing in your own life? Remember last night when ... "Here were the same words that I was speaking to my child coming back at me. It reminds me of that pointing finger: You've got one finger pointing out to whoever it is you're talking to, but there are three fingers that point back at yourself. I thought, "Oh, you're right, Lord. I need to work on that quality myself." Oh, boy.