Hello lovely people. It’s been a while…I have various half-finished blogs in my head but thought it was about time I got on with completing something! This collection of thoughts has been greatly expanded and enhanced by our lovely Life Group (a small group from church that meets midweek) who discussed the topic with me this week – thank you Blunders Life Group…you are the best!
Last week at church, we were talking about the characteristics of small children, and one that really stuck with me was ‘imitators’. Our elder son (EJ – nearly 4) is a proper copycat/parrot. So often we catch him doing or saying things that remind us of ourselves (or frequently, my mum!). Last week my brilliant sister gave birth to a lovely baby girl, who our boys met for the first time on Thursday. They were instantly besotted with her, and EJ is immensely proud of her – taking a photo into nursery to show all his friends. But as well as loving her and being proud of her, he has started imitating the actions of a new parent. He has named one of his toy giraffes after her, and now talks about putting her down to sleep, stroking her head, giving her cuddles and asking us to be quiet when she is resting. It reminded me of my friend’s little girl who ‘breastfed’ her dolly whilst her Mummy was feeding her baby sister.
Little children learn by copying, and seeing this behaviour in my son so obviously in recent days, it reminds me what a responsibilty we have to little ones – both our own and those that we interact with frequently – to model good behavior, positive relationships, respect for others, and everything else! I pray that my children imitate and learn the positive traits of Blunders and I…or things might get ugly!
But as I thought more about this concept of children as imitators I wondered – when do we grow out of that? Do we ever?
As teenagers we often imitate others to find acceptance and become part of the ‘in crowd’. At life group, Rachel shared that as a child/young person she never listened to pop music. Her parents only listened to classical music at home, which she loved. But when her friends began talking about songs and bands in the charts, she bought a ‘Now’ CD (or tape?!) and, through sheer dermination, listened to it and got to know the songs so that she could join in their conversations – despite the fact she hated every single song she heard! I’m sure we all have stories of doing things that we don’t like, or don’t agree with – imitating others to ensure we fit in.
I’m not sure this sort of behaviour is restricted to teenagers though. Have you ever just found yourself nodding along with an opinion you don’t agree with? Keeping quiet because you don’t know people very well, or because you know them so well that you don’t want to upset a friendship by arguing? Most of us at life group could think of times when we’ve done that.
So I reckon that to some extent, we remain imitators even in adulthood – but that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many of us have people in our lives who we especially look up to – a work colleague, friend, grandparent, church leader, mum in the playground, celebrity who inspires us. And in many ways I don’t think there is anything wrong in having a role model, and attempting to replicate the great stuff you see in them, in your own life. For me, it becomes problematic when you look at someone and think “I want to BE them”…and (speaking from personal experience) I think this can be unhealthy because it breeds dissatisfaction with your own life, the circumstances you are in and the person that you are.
So, provided that we don’t become totally obsessed, and place our role model on a pedestal, I suggest that imitating others can be a good thing. Of course – it all depends who you’re imitating!
I’m going to leave you for now – there will be more on this in a day or two – but have a think, who do you imitate? Why? I’ll be sharing some of my ‘role models’ in the next post, but I’d love to hear from you – as always, let me know your thoughts in the comments box below.