Monkey See, Monkey Do!

~By Julie Chatfield, Children’s Ministry Director

Monkey see, monkey do.  When I was a kid, my mom would use this old adage when she witnessed my younger brother or sister copying my actions.  It was one of the many indirect ways she would affirm their love for me, but also remind I was expected to set a good example.   Though I was honored to be their role model, they were doing what all humans do.  Learning by mimicking their surroundings.   It is true this developmental behavior may be an expression of love, but setting a good example is important because this innate monkey business does not discriminate between right and wrong and is not necessarily particular to it’s origin.  The human drive to imitate looks to parents or peers, television, video games and music, teachers or coaches, but most likely all the aforesaid and probably then some.  There is also a misconception that as vocabulary develops, the copying behavior is no longer applicable.  Words certainly assist in communicating expectations, but they do not replace, instead add a level of reinforcement to our mimicking nature.  That’s why when you “tell” a child it’s time to clean their room, do the dishes or take out the trash, they react more enthusiastically when you are an active participant.  If instead you are sitting on the couch watching television, to which perhaps we can all attest, the instruction is less viable.  Children, and even adults too, are more inclined to do what you do, not what you say.  

I recently heard a podcast featuring Joy Harjo who stated,  “Infants are all knowing.  Then they are born and sadly begin the process of unknowing.”   In this case Joy infers that all knowing is an innate mental awareness, and although Joy is Native American, the thought is comparable to our Christian faith.   Another words, we are born knowing God and soon thereafter begin the process of unknowing God.   Whether true or not, our monkey see, monkey do conduct is our strongest defense.  Sunday School education is only one portion of a Child’s spiritual development.  Children need to see people of all ages worshipping together and claiming their faith.  Show them.  Kiddos want to hear, respect and even participate in prayer requests.  Show them.  Young ones love to experience the sights and sounds of the worship space and feel they belong.  Show them.  Do not worry that they do not fully understand now.  With consistent and positive examples they will understand more fully later and develop into strong, well rounded and lifelong believers. 

Romans 1:19-20  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.   Ever since the creation of the world God’s eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things God has made. So they are without excuse;