In the last post we looked at the fact that although parenting is challenging, we can be hopeful as we learn how our heavenly Father relates to us. We noted the importance of Accepting our Children’s Uniqueness. Next we’ll see that we need to…
Affirm Their Value
It’s not enough to just accept your child’s uniqueness you have to take a step further and affirm their value to them. Many parents accept their kids the way they are but they don’t communicate that acceptance to their kids. Their kids don’t feel valued even though the parents really think they are.
Psalm 139:13-14 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful” There is no baby that’s born by accident. Even if a parent didn’t plan a pregnancy, God knew this baby was going to come into the world and even as that baby was being formed in the mother’s body, He shaped the baby in an incredible and wonderful way.
As parents, it is our job to convey that value to our kids. Here are three deliberate and intentional ways:
- Affection One of the most important ways to tell somebody that you matter is through touch, physical affection. Touching. Physical contact, hugs, kisses, pats on the back, rubbing the back. If you didn’t grow up in a family like that, you can learn it! *Studies have shown that fathers are one-sixth as physically affectionate toward their kids as mothers are. Fathers, have courage, to hug and kiss your kids. Love your kids. Show affection for them. Show them you care. Come home with hugs and kisses, not burps and gas. A touch can re-energize a person, especially when they are uptight. Sometime today give a loving touch to every member of your family.
You may not have grown up in a physically expressive family and it comes hard for you, difficult. But don’t rob your kids of what you were robbed of. You know how much sometimes you really hurt and wish somebody would just give you a hug. If you know that, make sure you pass that on to your kids..
- Affirmation. The way we talk. We shape our kids by the way we talk to them all the time. Do you talk down to them? Or do you talk to them as people, little people? The way we talk, affirm, build up instead of tear down — we’re on the same team! Don’t make fun of your kids! Build them up. Encourage them. When was the last time you set down eyeball to eyeball and looked your kids in the eye, not on the run — in the eye and said, “If I had it all to do over again, I’d still choose you as my child. If I had a choice of any kid in the world, I’d still choose you.”
One of the things I want to teach my kids is it’s OK to fail if you try. I want that message to come through loud and clear. I want my kids to take risks in life. I want them to go for it! I want them to try new things. I want them to be people of faith when they grow up. In order to teach people to be that way you have to teach them not to fear failure, that it is OK to fail as long as you try. I want our family to be a place where the kids can come home and say, “I tried today but I blew it at school!” and they are affirmed not put down. They are loved and built up again. And their empty tank of self esteem is refilled. I want to create an environment where it’s OK to fail and they will still get affirmed. Everybody affirms when you get straight A’s, when you hit the home run, when you win the contest. What about the time when you lose? and they don’t meet up to your standards or expectations? That’s when they need to be affirmed.
- Attention. This is probably the number one way kids sense that they are loved. How do kids spell love? TIME We have so many absentee fathers today. They’re never around. Cornell University did a study and attached little microphones to kids and they monitored them for weeks. They found that in America the average father spends on a per day basis 37.7 seconds talking to his children. Compare that to the fact that they’re probably watching 2-4 hours a day of television. Where are they getting their values? Where are your kids learning about God? The missing link in what’s happening in so many families today is just time together. That’s the missing element. We are living separate lives, going a million different directions.
The missing factor in most families today is the time factor. We don’t spend a lot of time together. Parents are going in one direction, kids are going in another direction, our lives are frantic and busy. Business fills a schedule but it fractures a family. Two specific ways that you can give attention and show your kids how much they are valuable to you.
(a) Focused attention. Eye contact. When you give eye contact with someone, you are giving the gift of yourself. You are saying to that person, “I am here with you. Not just in body, but my whole mind, body and soul are engaged in what you have to say. I’m going to look you right in the eye and let you know how valuable you are to me.” Some of you are really good at doing more than one thing at once. You can read the paper, watch tv, and write a report. It’s amazing how you can accomplish three things at once. Your child walks into the room and says, “Mom, I want to talk to you about something” and you say, “Yes, go on”. It is when you stop and look up and look them right in the eye, then they know that you’re listening and you care.
One of the first ways you can give value to your kids is to look them in the eye.
(b) Mealtimes. Family mealtimes have basically gone the way of the dinosaur in America today. There was a study in Homelife magazine and it showed that well adjusted teenagers tend to spend more meals with their families than poorly adjusted teenagers. The study said it’s not certain whether it’s the stories the teens share about their days, parental intervention, a sense of fellowship, or some other factor that helps teens adjust to the challenges of adolescence, but the conclusion is that any meal that you have with your teens is the most important meal of the day.
In the next post we’ll look at Entrusting our Kids with Responsibility