Have you ever noticed how children tend to give you more of what you praise them for?
We realized early on that our girls responded positively to praise. We watched carefully, and anytime we saw a Christlike grace, we expressed how beautiful we thought it was. We didn't spend a lot of time talking about physical beauty, because that's not what we wanted them to focus on. We praised them for being beautiful: being clean and neat, being loving and patient, being diligent and self-controlled.
Not only did we praise them for their beautiful behaviors and attitudes, but Curt and I actively brought attention to beautiful attributes in others. We praised others for exhibited Christlike graces.
We tried to be careful not to praise anyone just because they were in a particular line of work/ministry. We wanted our girls to be free to pursue whatever God might have in store for them. We realized we had the scary power of creating images in their minds that would potentially shape their lives and possibly even their eternal destinies!
I'm convinced our children know what we value. It comes through in what we praise. We just have to listen to ourselves and notice what we say. We may find ourselves surprised at what we value if we just start listening.
I pray God will continue giving each of us wisdom whether we are parents or not. For even as friends of children, we have power and influence, and the things we praise will likely not go unnoticed.