Do you know that communication with your child is important, no matter the age? We parents can get in a rut of asking typical every day questions about homework, ballgames, shopping for school items, but it's important to engage them in conversations as well. Dr. Kevin Leman, an expert on raising children, says, "Collaborate with them. Show a keen interest in their thoughts and value their points of view, opinion and tastes." It is through this dialogue that children discover themselves. Though you may not agree with all their thoughts and ideas, maturity usually takes care of that. In the process of getting to vent their feelings and thoughts, they feel their opinions matter. That is a priceless thing to a young person trying to find their way to adulthood.
Children need to know someone believes in them. Dr. Howard Hendricks, a well-known author, once said, "Our research indicates that the reasons most men and women never get across the threshold of success in life is that they never had anyone to believe in them." Our children need praise for things well done, and encouragement during times they feel defeated. It is important they know it is not perfection we praise, but their willingness to join in life. Of course, unconditional love and acceptance is the foundation for this mindset.
Faith is an important element as we help our children mature. Children, like adults, need to know there is hope when things seem the bleakest. They need to know God loves them and they cannot do anything to destroy that love, nor can they earn it. Jesus Christ has already paid for it. His unrelenting love changes us into His likeness. How freeing is that fact? It makes all the difference in life.
We pack our children's luggage every day, for that journey they will eventually take away from us. What are we putting in their luggage, value or filler?" When I think of filler, I think of all the research I have done to make sure my husband and I get good vitamins. I have learned that cheaper brands have some of the vitamin stated on the bottle, and then filler is added to cut cost. The filler neither helps nor harms us. It is put there to take up space, to fill the capsule.
Don't fill your child's life with things of no value. Time matters. It is being used up every day. Regardless of your title at work, your education or your professional accomplishments, the biggest thing you will ever do in life is to raise another human being. Take it seriously. Then go out and have fun doing it.
"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)
Antje lives with her husband, Richard, in MS and is a columnist for Parents & Kids Magazine. She loves writing and speaking on marriage and parenting. She is the mother of three sons.
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