Being a mom is a rewarding and gratifying journey, but it’s also a difficult one. Isn’t it amazing how one happy moment can improve even the hardest of days? Since we are not perfect people, it makes since that we won’t be perfect parents either. We give it our best and yet, we still fall short of perfection. God doesn’t ask us to be perfect but He delights in our seeking His wisdom and guidance.
Following are six ways that we can inspire our children.
1. Ask Forgiveness– When we make a mistake with our child (and we all will) ask him/her for forgiveness. It could be an honest mistake. Once when my son was about 5 years old, we had begun the habit of regularly praying together at bedtime. “Please help my son be a good boy,” was part of the prayer. After months of praying, Will finally said, “I don’t like to pray anymore.” “Why?” I inquired. He said, “How would you like it if I asked God to help you be a better mom?” OUCH… I didn’t know how I was hurting his feelings by his misunderstanding of my perceived displeasure. I apologized for days. Other times I’ve had to apologize for a lousy disposition brought on by stress or tiredness. An apology is such a great example for our children. It models that none is perfect, while it teaches them to forgive.
2. Smile- A smile says, I like you, I accept you, you’re still my friend. It says that although you spilled your milk on the freshly mopped floor, or broke a window, or yours was the bossy girl on the ball team, I forgive you, I’m not mad, I won’t hold it against you. (This doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be restitution.)
3. Encourage– Verbal encouragement is exceptionally important. But tangible encouragement is something your children can touch or look at and be reminded of again and again. A few ideas are:
- Write special “sticky notes” and place them on bathroom mirrors or other places your children will see them. These could be notes of praise, Bible verses, or a simple, yet powerful, “I love you.” When my daughter left for college she pulled out a small suitcase containing ALL of the notes I had left her since preschool. Apparently they meant a lot to her.
- Make a “Love Myself Alphabet.” Help your younger children write down the letters of the alphabet. Together, decide a character trait that begins with that letter. For example: A= all right; B= brave; C= curious, etc. For your teens: Delight and surprise your teen by creating this list for him/her. 🙂
- Heart Shaped Mobile- This is fun to do on Valentine’s Day but it’s an equally sweet treat to randomly surprise your kids with this one. Cut 5 or 6 hearts of different sizes from pink and red construction paper. Connect them with paper clips in descending order (see picture). On the top heart, write your child’s name. Then on each heart, write a character trait or something in which they excel. This is especially good for preschool and kindergarten children who are emerging into literacy and are anxious to read. Hang the mobile from the ceiling or doorway for them to see when they wake up. I recently found that my 18- year- old- son had saved his mobile, and it was still hanging in his closet. (It’s pictured.)
- Be Fair– I learned the hard way that what works for one child doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for the other. Both of my girls are the “cheerleader type” filled with passion and excitement and enjoy doing the “happy dance” when the occasion is right…like making an “A” on the biology exam. But my son is a quieter-type, an introvert, who prefers to be praised with the “silent look of admiration.” But at age five, when he caught his first fish with his dad, I did not yet know his preference. I applauded him and “screamed” for joy at the sight of that stinky fish. (His plans were to gross me out with it!) He cried and ran to hide in his room. What a lesson for me! If I don’t applaud my girls and do the happy dance, they are hurt and feel ignored. And if I offer crazy praise to my son, he feels embarrassed and disrespected. It is important to discover the unique qualities and characteristics of your child and then encourage and discipline accordingly. By doing so, you will meet your child’s needs.
- Commit to learn together– We all slip up and say things we wish we hadn’t…and we all know “mean” people. Decide to work on this common problem together.
- Make a big bowl of popcorn without any salt or seasoning. Describe the taste as bland, dry, and plain. Then sprinkle salt on the popcorn and compare the before and after tastes. Explain that salt adds flavor. Teach them that- like salt added to the popcorn, our tongues can be the salt and flavor that make our words flavor another person’s life.
- Read the short version of Bambi (1942). Thumper’s father says, “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.”
We’re not perfect people raising children in a perfect world. But by applying these five inspirations, we can know we are doing our best to help our children feel loved, special, forgiven, and accepted. And isn’t that how God sees His children? 🙂
Debbie holds a BS degree and a Master’s degree in early childhood and elementary education. She has more than 21 years teaching full time in higher education. Currently she is an adjunct instructor in the Elementary Education Department at Montreat College.
Debbie is also co-founder of Shine! Ministries and a partner with The Polished Conference. She is the author of one Bible Study, “Shine! Young Women Radiating the Love of God,” available fall, 2015. She would love to speak at your next women’s event. For more information visit her website: www.debbiepresnell.com or visit her page on facebook: shineministriesnc. Contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.