Love to me means my family and God. ~Hannah, age 7
As we close out our “love month” we get to look at the best quality of love. True love never fails. Our children need to be able to say with confidence that, “no matter what, my parents will love me.” One of the ways we communicate this is how we discipline. Through discipline we need to constantly communicate that we are disappointed in the choices made or behaviors displayed but not the child. The phrase should not be “I’m so disappointed in you!” It should be “I’m disappointed that you made that choice because now you have chosen to go to bed early and I was looking forward to spending time with you.” Again we have to be very aware of what is coming out of our mouths. We need to not discipline out of anger or frustration because when we do we can sometimes communicate disappointment with the person rather than the behavior. Make the choice to resolve the relationship after discipline. Sit and talk to the child; hug the child to make sure they know that we still love them. Our relationship is not damaged because of the choices they made. That is how we communicate that no matter what happens “I will always love you.” We must extend to our children the same love our Heavenly Father extends to us!
Love to me means family. ~ Joshua, age 7
Matthew, age 6
Just like choosing to love well, perseverance is a choice. It is something as parents we know how to do because there are so many situations that call for perseverance. For example, we choose to persevere through potty train because it is socially unacceptable to allow your healthy teenager to go to high school in diapers.
But what about circumstances that don’t have societal pressures behind them? Do we choose to persevere through the temper tantrum and not give the cookie? Do we choose to give consistent consequences when school books are forgotten or homework is not completed? Do we choose to stick to our dating parameters when our middle school daughter wants to go to a movie alone with a boy? Do we choose to not allow something we know is wrong even if “every one else is allowed to do that?”
Perseverance is a choice, sometimes daily. But as parents we must sometimes make the hard choices not only for the protection of our children but also to train and guide them. Remind yourself that when you do make these difficult choices, you are ultimately choosing to love your children.
Love to me means hope ~ Lucas, age 6
When our children are small it is easy to have big hopes and dreams for them. Sometimes though, as they grow up, our dreams are dashed in teen years with their fight for independence. Even if they are attempting to find who they are and possibly rebel against our system, we must never loose hope. More importantly we must never communicate that we have lost hope in them. Because often the big dreams we had in the beginning were our dreams and not God’s plans for their lives. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Proverbs 22:6 reads “train up a child in the way HE should go.” Translated better it reads “the way he is bent.” This means we need to be students of our children, learning who they were made to be. When we do this, not only do we not loose hope but we communicate hope.
How do I study my child? The biggest way to learn who your children are is by listening to them. Giving them your time. With a teen it may be a slow and gradual process. Make sure that you are making time to listen TO them rather than lecturing AT them. That may mean you “date” your child or it may simply mean you go and sit on their floor and spend time with them. When a parent gives of their time, especially when teens are trying to buck their authority, it communicates love. It communicates hope and belief that they are worth it!
Love is when somebody loves people. ~Samuel, age 3
The second way we teach trustworthiness is by modeling. As a parent, our actions are always under the microscope. Children are watching to see what we do and how we handle situations. One of the easy ways to communicate trustworthiness is to mean what we say. For example, when I say “no” do I mean “no” or do I mean “no… until you whine, complain, and beg until I change my mind.” It actually creates a sense of security when a child knows they will not be able to manipulate me into changing my mind.
When I say “I will be there” can my child look out with confidence and see me, on time, sitting front and center. Consistency communicates that I can be trusted. When I am consistently unable to follow through and make excuses for my behavior, children learn quickly that I cannot completely be relied upon. Even though this lesson may be taught unconsciously, we need to be aware that it is still being taught. In our busy lives and schedules it is easy to over look this and excuse it away. But because of our responsibility to our children we have to constantly be aware of what we are teaching.
Love means to respect and take care of others. ~ Ferdinand, age 13
Teaching our children to be trustworthy is a valuable life lesson. It allows them to be marriageable and employable which is one of our ultimate parenting goals to enable our children for success. It also helps the teen years go more smoothly. There are two ways to help children learn to be trustworthy. The first is giving them small amounts of freedom in which to make choices. Allowing your child to play in their room while you shower is ultimately an exercise of trust. You are trusting them to not tear their room apart while you are out of sight for a few minutes. Obviously, this takes parental wisdom about when your child is ready to take these small steps. It is our job to create a safe environment for them to exercise their choices. Then it is our job to get out of the way and observe. When they make the right choice we reward that choice; and when they make the wrong choice we give the appropriate consequence. All of these day to day choices are ultimately creating a person who is trustworthy.
Tomorrow we will discuss the second way to teach trustworthiness.