[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] T [/dropcap]wo weeks ago I shared two posts, Love Your Husbands & Love Your Wives. Google Analytics tells me these are favorites among my readers. So thank you all for reading and sharing! If you haven’t read those posts, you DON’T want to miss them.
My original intent was to also write about loving your children, but with the hustle and bustle of work, I didn’t have time to think into the matter. But since summer break began last Friday and the children have been with me almost every waking moment, I’ve been able to come up with a few things.
- Be an example of what you want them to become. Children should see us reading our Bibles and hear us praying. If we’re married, they should see us caring for our spouse. If we’re single, they should see us having the utmost respect for ourselves by not allowing negative influences into our homes. Little people will mirror and imitate everything you do, so let us choose our actions carefully.
- Be accountable to them. My kids will poke my tummy ANY time they see it jiggle. If there’s an altar call at church to which they feel I should respond, they give me the eye. I don’t care too much for that part, but the point is that my kids take responsibility for who I am just as much as I do for them. When I was growing up, I could never question my parents as to why they were doing something I didn’t understand. I wasn’t trying to correct them even though they took it that way. How insecure must we be to feel challenged by our own children! Don’t miss teachable moments with your little ones because of your own pride.
- Cuddle with them. Studies show–*inserts reputable child-rearing source here*– that children who are shown affection make better choices as adults. Boys needs hugs and kisses just as much as girls do, so let us not neglect their emotional and physical needs trying to make them tough. Children need to be touched, held, and cuddled on a DAILY basis. I try to spend time with each kid to just give them the special attention they need. When I do, they’re much more respectful and easier to be around. I’d also add that the younger the child, the closer that child should be to you. When B & B were small, I kept them in the same room with me. Now that they’re older and we live in a small place, I’ll let them go into another room but my ears are always open. Be vigilant. Kids pick up things from others and you want to know what attitudes, words, and actions are creeping in that need to be uprooted.
- Smile when you see them coming. You love your little booger, don’t you? I know you’re shocked by the damage done to the hair and clothing at the end of a day at camp, but still… greet your child, and anyone else you love with a big ol’ grin and a warm “I’m so happy to see you!”
- Tell their little butts “NO!’ I’m bad at this… Well, I say no but then I have a tendency not to follow through. Children don’t need half of everything we give them. Our closets are busting at the seams with toys and clothes, and I am NOT a stuff person. Let them kick and scream… nah, don’t do that. Spank their bottoms if they kick and scream. Teach them to take “no” with dignity and self-control.
- Teach them to be responsible for their emotions. Some kids are born with it, and others are just… challenging. Depending on your child’s needs, you can teach this in a variety of ways. I have one kid who gets overly emotional when tired. So my goal is to teach that child to exercise self-control. Most adults can’t do this, but simply making a child aware and teaching them how is a step in the right direction. When you’re feeling bad inside, smile on the outside. When you’re mad because you didn’t get something you wanted, think about all the things you do have and yell them out!
- Give them chores. I’m appalled by the number of 15-year olds I teach that don’t know how to wipe down a table. If I can get my first grader to mop and my third grader to vacuum, certainly your teenager can handle some tasks. Not only is this good for the children, but it’s GREAT for you too! Starting tomorrow, my daughter will be washing out the pan I use to make her breakfast. My son will clean up EVERY mess he makes including the chocolate syrup spills, toast crumbs, dirty butter knife, etc.
- Guard their hearts. Not everything that is marketed for children is actually FOR them. It’s so easy to sit a child in front of Disney, Nickelodeon, Sprout, Poptropica… all that… and think they’re good to go. I ASSURE you… there is SOMETHING malevolently planted in some of these sites and television stations. When Brandon was in Kindergarten, he used to play games on Poptropica while I’d cook dinner, etc. Well a conversation bubble popped up and I heard his little stacatto reading voice chirp “Let us change our passwords so mom and dad don’t find out what we’re doing.” I went over to verify and sure enough!! When you see something or someone influencing your child the wrong way, cut it off! But you have to be around to see/hear it.
- Speak life to them. Old Black folk love to say kids are bad, grown, and mean. I know it’s part of our culture, but I hate it with a passion. My children are none of those things, nor do I want them to be. People become what you speak over them. Of course Man Man is cussing at two… all you do is cuss and call him bad. Whenever I find myself around small children, I be sure to say to them “You is smart. You is kind. You is impohtant.” You get the point. Really I just say “Jesus loves you” or “You’re a good boy/girl.”
- Validate them! Our kids have soooooo much to say, but we have to be tuned in so that we hear what matters. Though their feelings may be misguided, they are valid and easy to redirect if we first validate that the child is a person deserving of respect. Not to talk anyone down, but I was often told that my feelings didn’t matter and I went through life thinking that everyone else’s feelings mattered more than my own. What a cockeyed way to live life!!! Think of all the times you felt unloved and insecure. Don’t you DARE allow your child to navigate through those emotions alone. It is irresponsible and negligible for a parent to allow their child to suffer through rejection and shame without offering love and support regardless of what a child has done. When our kids become isolated, they are easy prey for the enemy. All types of evil things like hatred, sexual perversions, violence, self-hate, suicide creep in. Keep them close to you and remind them that they are loved unconditionally.
So many of you are great parents and could add so much more… so please please please share and comment!!!
In what ways do you and your children show love for each other?
With love, sincerity, and hope for your family’s future,