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Joe and Sue (fictitious names) didn’t want their children to smoke. They knew the terrible cost of smoking firsthand: increased sick days at work, the high monetary cost of smoking, the smell, and the social pressure from people who don’t smoke.

Joe tried to stop smoking on several occasions. He used the patch, hypnosis, cold turkey withdrawal, and the cure du jour. Nothing worked for him. He never got much farther than a month off cigarettes because he couldn’t stand the withdrawal symptoms.

At age 14 Joe and Sue’s daughter started smoking. She tried to hide it from them, but they could smell it on her when she came home. Attempts to get her to stop were met with, “But you smoke.”

Like it or not, Joe and Sue had to admit that their daughter’s smoking was caused, to a large degree, by their own smoking. Some experts say that children of smokers are twice as likely to begin smoking between 13 and 21.

And if these statistics apply to smoking they also apply to other behaviors that children grow up in. If Abraham lived to see his grandson Jacob, he would have seen behaviors like his own: lying, duplicity, and conniving to save his own skin. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers because of the influence of his father Jacob’s life and the dysfunction of the family.

Parents would do well to be reminded that the behaviors their children observe become the seeds from which the children’s attitudes and behaviors will grow in the future: racism, selfishness, bad habits, etc.

If you want your own children to live in a certain way, you have to model that behavior.