As our former pastor used to say, "You can't spoil a child by holding him and loving him. You spoil a child by withholding discipline." AMEN, and well said! There's a big difference between loving and cherishing our children and serving them and spoiling them. This week, our focus is love--the kind that produces pleasant children who will love you right back!
Ten Ways to Love Your Children
- Allow them to be children; in other words, you be the parents. You make major decisions in the home and allow them to be followers. You may think that you're acting in a loving and inclusive way when you allow children to help with major decisions in the home, but the truth is that you're putting a burden on them. Parents who lack solid leadership often produce anxious children.
- Teach them some life skills. Sure, they may enjoy playing baseball or taking a ballet class, but be sure that you're allowing them to learn to do what you do in the home. Which skill will your child need more--executing a killer pirouette or knowing how to separate darks from whites?
- The next time you don't feel 100%, let your children take care of you. We're not talking about major care and responsibility--but if you have a slight headache or a case of the sniffles, ask your child if he or she would like to help you feel better, and see what happens. That question can lead you to discuss anything from practical tips that they need to learn to talks about compassion and putting others' needs before your own.
- Lighten up when it rains. Okay, maybe not now, when it's so cold, but the next time you have a warm, balmy day that turns rainy, we think that would be the perfect time for boat racing in a big puddle.
- Talk about Jesus. Make Him real to them. If you have smaller children, point out a beautiful sunrise and suggest that they tell Jesus that they like His art work. Tell them that He loves to receive compliments on His hard work. Talk about Him as often as you can, and use His name. Remember that there is power in that name!
- Read to them. If you have older children, read from a devotion book while still sitting at the kitchen table, or read an old mystery novel together as a family.
- Be honest with them. No matter what age they are, children can always tell when you're not being honest. This is especially true when you get into the bigger discussions during the pre-teen and teen years. Establish a foundation with your children so they will come to you with questions. Answer what they ask . . . but be sure you understand exactly what they're asking!
- Spend some one-on-one time. In our house, we have a saying: "Girls with the girls, boys with the boys." Whether meeting up at a restaurant or spending a Saturday running errands or working around the house, one-on-one gives us time to share real life lessons and model being a woman and being a man for our children.
- Surprise them! This one works only if your children aren't accustomed to getting something ALL. THE. TIME. When they are taught to wait for special things--even little things--they, in turn, reap the benefit of a genuine surprise. It can be as simple as a box of Cracker Jacks in their seats when you pick them up from school to as big as a quick trip to the library or local yogurt shoppe. While these may seem silly and outdated to some, children are the same as they've always been--but we have changed our approach--which, unfortunately, now includes too much stuff way too soon.
- Pray for them and for their future spouses. Right now your child's other half is most likely out there in some corner of the world. Whether just down the road, across the seas, or friends since birth, begin praying for them now. Pray for their purity, humility, and character, and most of all, pray that their hearts desire Christ above all else.
Praying that you're happily parenting today!