Ethan is now at 2 years and 7 months and is now able to express and communicate his thoughts quite well. As we learn to be intentional with teaching him good character traits, a few weeks ago became a week-long opportunity to teach and learn about integrity.
One time he lovingly called one of our office staff to come with him while we were in the office and said “Tago tayo.” or let’s hide. It sounded cute as we saw them hide together behind one of the tables in the foyer. And then he whispered ,” eat tayo candy!” Ethan was able to grab a candy from somewhere in the office and wanted to hide it from us knowing that we don’t allow him to get without permission.
Everyone including us found it cute. He was laughing because he thought it was ok. But we thought about it for a while and realized that it was alarming.
Hiding a piece of candy today could be stealing tomorrow. So we had to pull Ethan aside and explain to him that it was wrong to hide things from mommy and daddy. We reminded him that that act of hiding something that we didn’t allow him to have was stealing. There are a couple of lessons I picked up during this incident that helped me process how am I doing as a father.
INTEGRITY LESSON 1: Be a man of your word.
Let your yes be yes and no be no.
Firstly I realized how important it is to instill integrity to our kids at young age. Ethan now remembers events, things that happened and words said. For example when I say that Papa will be the one to give him a bath, and then when our helper takes him to the toilet he would say, “No, only papa.” He remembered what I said so I try to make it a point to always let my yes be a yes and my no a no with him about anything. Even in discipline.
So when he disobeys me when we are outside, I make it a practice to pull him aside or bring him to the toilet and discipline him. I explain to him what he did wrong, or ask him what did wrong and wait for him to verbalize it. Next I discipline, embrace and explain to him the value of obedience and respect.
INTEGRITY LESSON 2: Admit your mistake and apologize
I also learned that as a father there are moments that I need to remove my pride and say sorry quickly. I get frustrated easily with Ethan and don’t notice that I growl. My wife pointed this out and we saw that when Ethan would get frustrated, he would now growl too. He became my reflection and I decided to change this immediately. When I loose my patience I express my frustration at him and hurt his feelings. It’s not the best feeling in the world, and even though I felt I had the right to get frustrated, I knew it was wrong. So I also need to pull him aside to say sorry and ask for his forgiveness. Parenting is 24/7 and I need grace daily to be consistent. I am thankful for my wife that helps me be a better father.
INTEGRITY LESSON 3: Envision a 25 year old man.
There was a recent incident at work that had questionable integrity that caused us to loose our complete trust. When we confronted the employee I can never forget what was said. He thought that he could get away with it just this one time and that there was nothing wrong since no one was hurt. But one lie and intentional act led to another and another and another until God finally revealed the truth crystal clear.
This made me look at my own son and his hiding of the candy incident. I need to teach him what integrity is about; commit to your word; a yes is a yes and a no is a no. That once you say yes, when better options come about, you do not you’re your commitment and you live up to your commitment.
I wouldn’t want him to grow up confused and without a clear sense of integrity and responsibility. These incidents of “cuteness” are like little reminders of a child’s innocent heart but it also reflects man’s nature of sin; to hide because he can get away with it or to think that there is nothing wrong because he isn’t hurting anyone. As a father it is my goal that I go through these valuable life lessons with my child and graduate with him together.
I learned that I should always envision what kind of man I want Ethan to be and work hard together with him to instill our core family values. Ethan lately will always say, “mommy, daddy embrace tayo!” He will squeeze us tight and next would say “Picture tayo!” He likes doing things together with us because he would learn always with us better. He might be our little pocket, a bundle of endless energy but he is also our little man who is helping us be better parents too.