Our Children Are Listening

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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I was running late. I had to drop my son off at school (on time) and make it to a meeting (on time). The clock was moving quickly but I was not. Typical for me. As much as I hated to admit it, it was true!

My 6-year old son was riding quietly along, in the back seat of my car, gazing up at the barren trees rushing past his window, oblivious to my stress and worry. The intersection I feared would be the worst was, in fact, even more backed up than usual. “Real nice!” I muttered under my breath.

My contention has always been that Indiana drivers (of which I am one after living here for nearly 13 years) are bad drivers. Not, yank-the-wheel-causing-the-car-to-swerve-all-over-the-road-and-make-it-look-as-if-you’re-intoxicated-heavily bad. More like, I-forget-how-I-operated-this-car-last-night-when-I-drove-home-from-work bad. This usually manifests itself when they (eh-hem, we) pull up to intersections with the red octagon signs they’ve (we’ve) seen millions of times in their (our) driving careers!

The driver in front of me (who I’m sure is a great person), had come to a complete stop and waited… for the other driver…stopped to our left. However, that driver had waived them through…twice! But driver in front of me wasn’t budging. I wasn’t getting any earlier to my meeting! The thought occurred to me: if this were New York City I could just lay on my horn, they would simply tell me I was ‘number 1’ with their middle finger, and we’d be on our way. But as it was, this was suburban Indiana. There are rules!

However, in the confines of my car there are no such rules. I’m a human being with free-will who makes his own decisions. Ninety-nine percent of those decisions are good. But then one percent are, at times, not so good. I confess- I’m a human being and my flesh fails me. This is no excuse for poor behavior, but, in the heat of stress and hurriedness, it happens (I’m sure you can relate!)

This was about to be one of the one percent, not-so-good decision moments.

As my bottom lip curled beneath my top row of teeth to begin uttering the syllables of the phrase that was passing through my mind, I heard a small voice from the backseat- “Hey daddy, do you have to go to work after you drop me off at school?”

I exhaled. I had completely forgotten that he was in my car. At 6-years old, he’s incredibly compliant and quiet. I shook my head in shame as I mulled over what almost happened. I whispered a prayer of thanks as I realized that I almost blurted something out that he would later repeat.

My kids are listening…and watching…and taking cues from me. So are yours. I’m reminded of this every single day that I have the privilege of being their parent. However, at times I underestimate this, as I’m sure you do. I foolishly believe they are not paying attention or unaware and then they repeat me or emulate me in some way.

Our children are listening. They’re learning how to live and interact with the world around them by what they see in me.

I want them to be authentic human beings who grow up to be authentic adults, but at what cost? They will make their own decisions. I’m aware of this. But I want to do my best to model appropriate language and behavior in front of them while still being honest and not fake with my feelings and emotions.

I’m not suggesting that we stuff our emotions, but I’m also not suggesting that we freely blurt out every dark thought we have in front of our children. We must live in the tension between the two. It’s a delicate balance. If you’re anything like me, you still have a lot of work to do. I’m curious, where do you draw the line?

How have you learned this lesson yourself? Have you blurted something out that your children have later repeated? Share your story or thought in the comment section below… 

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.