There was a popular daytime television show during the 1950s called Art Linkletter’s House Party that featured humorous monologues and audience participation. In one of the show’s best-remembered segments, “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, Linkletter interviewed children between the ages of five and ten, garnering hilarious responses.
Kids don’t have filters on the things that come out of their mouths. They haven’t learned the finer rules of etiquette and social graces enough to hold back from stating the obvious. In their innocence, children blurt out things as they see them.
I was reminded of this when my grandson mentioned a few of my imperfections. He wasn’t trying to be mean. In a good-natured way, he was simply commenting on a few of my physical and behavioral flaws. Fighting against the wrinkling, sagging ravages of time is futile. It was his observations about things I commonly say that struck me most.
Taking time to listen to kids pays off. Hearing how I sound to young ears helped me to see myself from a different perspective. It gives me a chance to think about how my words might be interpreted differently than I intended, how the infection of my voice might alter the recipient’s understanding of my meaning.
My grandson and I talk a lot. That gives me ample opportunity to listen to his interpretation of what I’m saying, watch his body language, and self-correct what I’m saying. While I’m busy trying to teach my grandson something he needs to know, he is equally busy teaching me things that I need to know. This is why I think it’s important to listen to the kids.
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,” (Proverbs 10:9).
One of my early “Dad” memories is from a time we were returning home from an ice cream parlor. Quite by mistake, he drove the wrong way down a side street that had recently been designated one-way in the opposite direction we were traveling. Realizing his error, Dad attempted to turn off at the first intersection. However, a police officer who was parked beyond the intersection saw Dad.
I vividly remember sitting in the car and listening as Dad calmly explained the reason for his error. He received no sympathy. The officer issue a ticket that Dad respectfully accepted and paid without grumbling.
A person’s true character is revealed when they do not get the answer they want. It has been more than 60 years since that event and nearly 40 years since Dad’s passing. Still, my memories of Dad are filled with examples that showed he was a man of integrity and honorable character.
Most of what children learn from adults comes not by the words they hear but by the actions they see. Kids have a way of knowing when these two things are incompatible. Integrity, or the lack of it, is especially notable when we choose to do what is right in the eyes of God instead of doing what “I want” to achieve a short-term personal gain.
How would you measure up? The question should give you pause. A large part of the spiritual legacy you leave to your grandchildren will be evidenced by the integrity you display on a daily basis. Jesus demonstrated how to do what is right under all circumstances. And, He promised to help us stay strong when temptation hits us in the face. Ultimately, your reputation for doing what is right will show your children’s children the right way to live. And that is more valuable than gold.