Caught Not Taught
Fatherhood

Caught Not Taught

Posted by Kevin Harris on November 19, 2018

You know the scene . . . the one in Home Alone when the McCallister family wakes up and realizes they all slept through their alarms and are about to miss their flight to Paris. The chaos begins . . .

Clothes thrown everywhere.
Food shoved down throats or not eaten at all.
Quick showers.
Teeth not brushed.
Beds unmade.
Yelling.
Throwing bags and bodies into the car.

And one forgotten kid.

It hit me last week . . . except for the forgotten child, most mornings at our house look and sound similar. Some days Susan and I laugh about it . . . and others we want to climb back in bed and hit reset. Thinking about it the other morning, I realized many of the ways my 9-year-old and my 12-year old react and respond are being caught not taught.

I’ve always heard the idea that leadership is caught not taught. And I think because it was primarily discussed in a business context, I’ve compartmentalized that idea as only applying in the workplace. But as I reflected on our morning chaos and, specifically, on my boy’s reactions and responses to each other and to Susan and me, I’ve realized the idea of something being caught not taught also applies at home and to other areas besides leadership. And as their dad, most of what my boys catch comes from me. A few examples . . .

Respect is caught not taught – Respect of their things (they notice the pile of clothes in my chair or the toothpaste in my sink) and of others (my tone of voice, choice of words, etc.).

Language is caught not taught – I recently heard Matt Chandler say, “Sarcasm is not a love language,” which was hard to hear since I’m quite good at it. And now hearing it come out of my boys, I realize just how much influence I carry with them.

Affection is caught not taught – I want my boys to love and respect Susan. Practically, that starts with me and how I treat Susan on a daily basis. Remember the Five Feet for Five Minutes exercise? When I do that consistently, my boys notice.

Faith is caught and taught – Practical teaching can come from different places: church, Sunday school, Bible studies, etc. But what I model for my boys in this area is the most critical. Do they see me in God’s word instead of on my phone in the mornings? What do I listen to in the car with them? Am I teaching them to pray?

As my mentoring group discusses Fatherhood this month, we’re reading a great book, How to Really Love Your Child. Ironically, the last time I read it was in 2002 when I was in Regi’s mentoring group. I read my original net-out which I completed as a childless newlywed, and it was pretty useless. But as I read through the book sixteen years later, I was struck by how practical and profound it was. A few ideas . . .

Think of children as mirrors. As the moon reflects the sun, children reflect love, but they do not initiate love. If we give them love, they return it.

The home holds the upper hand in determining how happy, secure, and stable the children are; how children get along with adults, peers, and other children; how confident youngsters are in themselves and their abilities; how affectionate or aloof they are; how they respond to unfamiliar situations.

My group is also memorizing two great Scriptures: Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (keyword Teaching Your Children) and Colossians 3:21 (keyword Fatherhood).

I know I’m the mentor here, but reading the book and memorizing the Scriptures has been really meaningful for me . . . reminding me just how powerful and influential the role of the father is. Nothing is more important.

Scripture: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)

Comment here.

Responses (2)

Keith Duff
Keith Duff Posted: November 19, 2018, 9:21 am

Good stuff Kevin. Thanks for the reminders and the challenge!


John Holmes
John Holmes Posted: November 27, 2018, 8:59 am

Good word. That’s the thrust of a good little book I read a while ago called “Everyday Talk” – it’s about the power of the everyday moment and our responses as they impact our kids.


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