This past Christmas, our son Nate posted a lovely tribute to us on Facebook. He shared some of his Christmas memories as a child growing up in a very large family with not much money.
I wanted to share it with you to offer encouragement to the parent who feels like they can’t possibly be doing anything right; to the parent who is struggling financially; to the parent who wonders if their kids will ever realize how much you love them.
Keep doing right. Stay the course. Your kids are watching and observing, even when you don’t realize it!
From Nate: (Age: 39)
Christmas memories: “I’ve been reflecting the past few days on how my parents made Christmas special for us. Our grandparents lived hundreds of miles away and times were very tight when I was little, much tighter than I knew at the time, so Mom and Dad had to make Christmas special for us on their own for the most part.
I was so excited by Christmas as a kid I had very little idea that it was a time of extra financial pressure for them. Or how much Dad felt it and covered it up for our sake. I remember times when he gave us used toys or tools, at least for some of our gifts. I just thought he gave us those things because they were really cool. I had no idea that it was difficult for him to get into the spirit because he was struggling so hard, doing a humble business in the construction trades, doing work that didn’t excite him as a people person, all the while the pressure to feed a growing family weighing upon him.
Question: I have 4 kids- ages 8, 7, 6, and 5. The 7 and 5 year old are constantly fighting, butting heads. I just don’t know what to do. Can you help?~ Charity
Answer: Charity, We have found Scripture to be the ONLY thing that addressed the negative behaviors we saw in our children. We had our kids learn Scripture verses according to whatever they happened to be struggling with at the time. For instance, maybe it was whining, or arguing, getting angry, speaking unkindly, etc.
The first step is for them to learn the Scripture in their minds so they can repeat it. Then we talk about it. We constantly (it seems) remind them of the Word, and eventually it makes it’s way down to their hearts where it begins to change the way they live their lives.
Our time with our kids is so short. Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Purpose to realize that your days with your kids living in your home are numbered. They grow up so fast. Remind yourself of that when the day seems long and hard. Everyone needs encouragement. Be your kids biggest cheerleader!
Here’s some tips to help you focus.
1. Don’t complain. Proverbs tells us ” A merry heart doeth good like a medicine”. You can actually be a healing balm to your children by maintaining a merry heart. Griping brings discouragement. It surely does to everyone- the griper and those listening. Your cheerfulness will make your kids want to be around you and later listen to what you have to say.
2. Acknowledge their attempts to do well. Yes, I mean their attempts. Maybe they wanted to help you clean up but spilled the lemonade on the floor while carrying it to the kitchen. Oops. It’s just a mistake. Acknowledge their attempt to be helpful. When they find something difficult- maybe long division- and finally get a problem correct, praise them. It’s been a long, hard road, but hey, here is a small success! Encourage them.
When my kids were little, I would lie down with them at night when I was putting them down to bed. I’d pray with each one individually. I’d try to think of even one thing they did that day that was good and I’d mention it to God in prayer as I prayed with them. Sometimes, I’d peak and see a big smile spread over their face as I mentioned their name to God in prayer, thanking Him that “_________” did a diligent job today as she wiped the crumbs from the counter (for instance). The next day, I’d notice she was extra diligent at her job of wiping the counters. She realized that I had noticed she’d been trying and even mentioned it to God which reminded her that God does see all that we do. When we do a good job at even menial tasks we are doing our best for our Lord.
Colossians 3:17 “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
Learn to become alert to opportunities to encourage your kids. Learn to watch them as they attempt to do things. Watch their eyes, listen to the excitement in their voices over some project they attempted or want to attempt. Don’t be the person who “throws cold water” on every idea they come up with. Let them attempt to try things that you maybe know won’t even work. Failure is one of our best teachers!
Don’t you hate it when you’ve worked hard on a project, and full of excitement, you show it to a friend who immediately points out several things they think are wrong with it? Your excitement just deflated like a balloon. That’s exactly what I DON’T want to do with my kids. You weren’t asking for a critique of your project. Now, after the excitement dies down, sure, you want to get some suggestions to help you improve it; but initially, you want some encouragement for all the effort you made getting it to this point.
That analogy helps me to view life from my child’s point of view. The best parent continually learns how to do this. Step into their shoes and try to imagine how they are feeling before you speak. We as parents are responsible to guide our children, to steer them in the right path, to admonish when they are doing wrong, and to lovingly allow them the freedom to fail and learn from their failures. Continue reading How To Be an Encouraging Mom – Part 1→
One thing that is so hard to endure is to be around a grumpy person. I cringe and want to get away from them as quickly as possible. As a young Christian I was given a little paperback copy of Proverbs from the Living Bible which was pretty “in” back then for young people. ( I was saved at age 16, married at age 18 and had my first baby on my 20th birthday)
I began reading my “daily Proverb” when my first child was napping. I would ask God to show me which verse He wanted me to focus on that day and I’d write it on an index card and hang it on the refrigerator.One day my verse was Proverbs 15:4. “Gentle words cause life and health; griping brings discouragement.” Wow! I began to contemplate that verse and asked God to help me “live it”. I began to realize that when I complained it not only discouraged everyone around me, but it discouraged me too! I remember making a conscious decision asking God to help me daily to choose cheerfulness.
This is a simple little game we would play to encourage our children to think on what is true, honest, right, lovely, and of good report as Philippians 4:8 instructs us. (Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Phil. 4:8)
Sometimes it might feel overwhelming to think of spending individual special time with each of your kids, when your life is already buzzing with schedules, daily tasks, homeschooling, and so on; but it’s so worth making it a priority! We noticed as we were raising our 14 children that it was the loud ones who got more attention. We began to feel bad that the quiet ones seemed to get left out. Still, even the loud ones seemed to need time of their own.
So first of all, just what does it mean to delight in your preschooler? Delighting in them means you communicate that there is nothing you’d rather be doing than spending time with them. It means you focus on all the positive ways God made them unique. It means to communicate to their little heart that you are delighted to be their mom or dad and you enjoy spending time with them. It means intentionally focusing on what is really important and learning to step into their shoes. It means that you believe the best of them and are their biggest cheerleader. The world won’t do it. It’s up to you!
So- here’s a little list of 20 ways you can show your little one that they are special to you: