Parents, Don't be Hypocrites
Every new parent quickly becomes aware that they have a constant audience from their child. They are there to watch how you respond to frustrations, whether you grieve over sin, if there is genuine longing to sit under the means of grace each Lord’s Day, etc. The gospel we proclaim to our children is important, but possibly more important than with anyone else is the life you live before their eyes.
Consider these pointed words by J. C. Ryle:
It is a true proverb, ‘Who sins before a child, sins double.’ Strive rather to be a living epistle of Christ, such as your families can read, and that plainly too. Be an example of reverence for the Word of God, reverence in prayer, reverence for means of grace, reverence for the Lord’s day. — Be an example in words, in temper, in diligence, in temperance, in faith, in charity, in kindness, in humility. Think not your children will practise what they do not see you do. You are their model picture, and they will copy what you are. Your reasoning and your lecturing, your wise commands and your good advice; all this they may not understand, but they can understand your life.
Children are very quick observers; very quick in seeing through some kinds of hypocrisy, very quick in finding out what you really think and feel, very quick in adopting all your ways and opinions. You will often find as the father is, so is the son.
Remember the word that the conqueror Caesar always used to his soldiers in a battle. He did not say ‘Go forward,’ but ‘Come.’ So it must be with you in training your children. They will seldom learn habits which they see you despise, or walk in paths in which you do not walk yourself. He that preaches to his children what he does not practise, is working a work that never goes forward. It is like the fabled web of Penelope of old, who wove all day, and unwove all night. Even so, the parent who tries to train without setting a good example is building with one hand, and pulling down with the other.
Quote from J. C. Ryle’s The Duties of Parents (pp. 30-32)