Imitation: The Sincerest Form of Flattery and Our Personal Mirro

I have often heard it said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We see this when people imitate celebrity hairstyles and fashions. We see this when our children latch onto an older friend or a popular child and begin to imitate them. It is their way of being accepted, being part of the pack, fitting in. And it is their way of telling the person they are looking up to that ‘Hey, I think your style rocks.’
I have also said ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ when my children get on one another’s nerves. You know…the big brother sits around copying everything the little sister is saying… or vice versa? Or a child is copying a teenager’s words or actions and it is driving the teenager crazy. This statement is a two-edged sword in this case. If it is the older one ‘mocking’ the younger one or trying to annoy them by copying what they say, they shut up pretty quickly…after all, they aren’t actually trying to flatter the younger child. Not at all, they are trying to annoy the younger child! In the case of the younger imitating the teen, it helps the teen take a deep breath and think…’okay, this little kid thinks I am cool…guess I can live with it.’
But there is another side of imitation that we tend to not think about. That is our child imitating us. How many times have you heard your child say a scathing remark to someone, only to realize they heard it from you? Much like Ralphie in A Christmas Story the child knows where they heard the scathing remark (or bad word or saw the bad habit), but if asked, they might not want to tell.
However to the honest parent, we know. We are looking at the mirror of ourselves. Sometimes that image is flattering and sometimes….well sometimes, it is enough to make us want to hang our heads in shame.
What got me thinking about this is that I often underestimate how my own energy and inclinations can affect others in the house. If I am upbeat, it tends to ripple through the family. If I am snarly, well, guess what, snarly comes back to me. Last week, I was all a bustle. I was up on time, took time for my devotions, exercised, got lots of stuff done here at home…was a whirlwind of activity. And what I saw was my children exercising, reading their bibles, and getting their school work done in a timely manner.
This week…well, this week has been much less energetic and as rats followed the Pied Piper out of town, my children have followed me into my ‘not getting much done’ mode.
So, when we see our children behaving in ways we wish they wouldn’t, it is best to look at ourselves, because in all likelihood, they are just being our living mirror. On the bright side, when they do something that makes us want to beam from ear to ear, we should pat ourselves on the back…because we probably did it first.

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