Do as I say, not as I do: When you are a bad role model

November 22, 2013 in kids and money,lessons for moms,mom guilt

Shoes. Purses. Nail Polish. Kitchen Gadgets. Books. What is your weakness? Chocolate? My mom loves dishes and purses. My grandma loved yarn. My neighbor, she has bins of scrapbooking materials.  Me? Plants and tea. Not just any tea. Loose leaf, imported tea. Remember yesterday’s post?

As a new, exhausted mom, I convinced my husband I needed a morning off each week or I would go crazy. It really wasn’t about convincing because it was true. My husband worked for a campus ministry at the time and could give me a morning off. I happily settled into a routine of relaxing at Gong Fu tea house with my Bible, my journal and a warm drink. Tea Houses were a new to Iowa at the time, and the owners delighted me with stories of their world travel to find these rare teas, information on proper brewing techniques and stories of how culture and fellowship happened around the world around this humble drink. I started blaming the Boston Tea Party for our country’s obsession with coffee. And I learned to decompress with my Lord during those two sweet hours while becoming a tea snob. No more prepacked tea bags for me.

Years later, I returned to bag teas because the exotic loose leaf varieties were not available in the small towns we kept moving to, Then, on a fatal visit home I went to a mall in Chicago where I discovered a new and growing chain called Teavanna. Free smells and free samples of at least half a dozen teas decorated the pretty store. The pull of memories of relaxing with the Lord while drinking great tea made a purchase inevitable. The girls and I rushed around oohing, sniffing, and tasting. The salespeople were relentless but the prices? Not in the budget. I bought just a small bag of jasmine pearls.

Loose leaf teaThe chain grew, but not enough to consider a store in my working class town. While visiting my parents, I found another Teavanna in their local mall. I actually went to the mall, with my kids, to visit Teavanna. We sampled and got hypnotized by the lovely smells and the smooth talking salesman. The girls begged for a blooming tea (watch the tea ball bloom as it seeps), watermelon mint chiller was divine, monkey-picked oolong sounded quaint especially if it was monkey -picked. We had fun. I was intoxicated with tea dreams and watching my girls enjoy one of my loves. I left with more tea than my budget permitted. A LOT more.

Guilt came in waves as we left the mall. My girls had just witnessed me being a hypocrite. I spent money I didn’t have. I believed the lie that things (or drink) could satisfy some longing. Even as I began to see the sin I tried to justify my purchase because I wanted that tea. I told myself I couldn’t return bulk food items the mall was closing. We had to leave town first thing in the morning. Just in case, since the girls heard the final bill, I told them not to say anything to their dad or my parents. They knew I never spent that much money on food.

Internal alarm bells were sounding. How mad would my husband be? Maybe I just wouldn’t tell him. Anytime you are avoiding telling your husband something, you better repent and fix things. If you are ashamed of your purchases, clearly you made a mistake. Hiding the purchase is never the answer.

It took a few days. First, I confessed to my girls my sin. My desires overcame my pocketbook. I asked my girls to not let me go in Teavanna again. They giggled at the thought of restricting mom. But we avoid the store for now. I had some personal birthday money that I used to pay for the tea and restock the family budget. Then the girls asked what dad had said. But I hadn’t told him yet.

My dear hubby stayed calm when I confessed to him, a few weeks later. He isn’t one to indulge in material possessions and could not relate to my faltering, but he was kind anyway.

If you were reading this in my presence, I would turn red with embarrassment. I still struggle to recognize myself in this story. But I believe, and hope, that sharing my mistakes with my children and modeling the process of repentance is important. If we hide or ignore all the internal sins from our kids, they will only understand how to paint the tomb white.

What about you? Have your kids ever witnessed you doing or saying something you shouldn’t?


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan Paat November 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Thank you for your transparency with this post! I have gone over budget frequently on things and somehow I try to justify my behavior…but I love what you said about painting the tomb white…such poignant, beautiful truth there. I want to be constantly reminded that I will pass down a legacy to my daughters-and that could very well be a legacy of sugar-coated sin that I display to them if I don’t confess and repent. Thank you again-I enjoy reading from your heart. Happy Thanksgiving!


Matthew Showman November 22, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Wonderful openness. Wonderful story. Beautiful modeling. I want to be a good model for my sons, but I know I will fail in more ways than are countable. I want more to be a good model of humility and repentance when those failings occur. Thank you for sharing.


Kita November 23, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Powerful post. We are starting to tell our kids things and open up about the mistakes we have made so that they can learn and grow and hopefully not make the same mistakes. I am no one’s role model but I do my best to learn from the past and not to repeat it. Stopping over from SITS


Caroline November 27, 2013 at 1:25 am

Oh, Laura! I loved this post, and I can so identify with messing up in front of my girls. I ask them not to yell in one breath and with another I fail to meet that requirement and lose my temper with them. However, I have made bigger mistakes that I recently shared with my twooldest in hopes that they can learn from my mistakes. I kept it a secret from everyone including my mother until 13 years after my biggest coverup ever. If your curious, it’s titled, “Skeletons In The Closet”. Thank you for your authenticity!


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