Presence

There are moments when our precious/adorable children drive us crazy.  The noise level is ratcheting up and we want to run out the door or scream or both! It often happens when we are stressed, in a hurry to get out the door, or just trying to get food on the table for them.

 

Here is a question to ask yourself or your child if they are old enough and self-aware enough: “What do you need?” It may be something physical such as food, sleep, affection, or some kind of attention to what they are doing.

 

I remember more than once being in conversation with someone when my toddler son would put his two little hands on my face and turn it towards him.  He was not subtle in asking for my full attention!

 

A great gift we give to our children is ourselves, fully present. This means we are paying attention to them, understanding their needs and desires. It takes focus and determination at times.  We have to decide to step into the present with our children, when so many other things are calling for our attention. We have to turn off the game or put down the phone, tablet, book, or whatever is taking our attention and focus on them.

 

It is impossible for us to be 100 percent present to our children, just as it is impossible to keep them completely safe from all suffering and harm.  Yet, as we become more aware of their need for our presence, we can practice giving them more of our full attention. This is an aspect of love, choosing to be present to those we love.  Our positive, caring attention helps our child know she or he is loved.  A child who is aware of being loved grows into a person who can love others. It is amazing how small acts of love and kindness have a great rippling effect on many lives.

 

The Gift of Forgiveness

A family friend who had watched us raise our children over the years once asked my son, “What did your parents do right in raising you?” We had met up with them in Thailand in 2002 and had not seen them for a few years. She was raising her own set of children, a few years younger than my set.  Our son, at the time was a teenager. He, after going through some rough faith testing waters, had a radiant faith and was involved in leadership at his International School in Central Asia.  Our friend had known him mostly as a young boy growing up in NW China. His answer was a bit humbling but not completely surprising to me.  “They asked me to forgive them many times.”

 

As I look back over the years of our parenting I have to agree with my son. I believe our parenting took a steep growth spike when we learned to face our own brokenness and pain. We learned to forgive our own parents for their shortcomings, and then ask our children to forgive us when we hurt them.

 

There was the time when we left them for too long with our youngest son’s first grade teacher.  We needed to go to Thailand to sort out some messy team problems.  We stayed an extra week to get some R&R afterwards.  These were in the days when there was only one flight a week in and out of Central Asia to Thailand.  Our dear friend, who volunteered willing to take care of our kids, probably didn’t realize how much work mentally and physically it took to look after 3 lively school age children. (She will always be our hero!)  Our kids missed us, we missed them, it was too long and they let us know. I was angry with myself as well because in my heart I knew it would be too long when we booked our tickets, but I wasn’t vocal enough with my husband at the time.  I hadn’t learned to trust my instincts enough.  We asked them to forgive us (more than once!) and made a promise to take them back to Thailand some day.  We were able to fulfill that promise a few years later.

 

In the day in and day out of raising children there are numerous times when we are stretched in our patience and self-control, we speak harshly, or spank them in anger (if we spank), ignore them when they are talking to us, or at least don’t give them our full attention.  I have had to ask forgiveness when I’ve told a story I thought was funny about them that was actually embarrassing to them. We have asked them to forgive us for the effects of our anger, depression, impulsive decision-making, and contention between us at times.  The list goes on and on.

 

This is a beautiful humbling aspect to parenting if we but embrace it.  This is who we are – imperfect human beings yet hopefully growing and learning from our many mistakes.  Thank God for His grace and love that covers a multitude of sin.  Thank God for children who long to keep a bond with their parents. Thank God for the gift of forgiveness.

 

Every Stage of a Child’s Life is a Gift

Every stage of a child’s life is a gift. There is something new to discover about my child and myself.  There is an opportunity to grow as a person along with my child. I can grow in love, patience, kindness, wisdom, or where ever I need to grow. Even the teenage years are a gift!  There are so many negative voices out there regarding raising children, especially about teenagers. Beware the rolling of the eyes and the horror stories that get passed along! There were definitely times when I was challenged and confused, desperate for answers, but I learned to love the challenges my teenagers brought to me, helping me to grow and think deeper about things I had taken for granted. I loved the joy and laughter they brought.  I learned to slow down and ask them questions. I learned to not just be upset by their behavior, but to find out what really was bothering them. I learned to be the first one to say sorry, when I had lost my temper out of frustration. This helped break the cycle and start the communication going again. We can find faith and find God in every stage. We can walk with him on this parenting journey.  Before you are ready to pull out your hair or worse go to God and ask for help.  His promise to us is to give us wisdom in our times of need when we ask.  Each child is unique.  So there won’t be a book or a person that can tell you just how to raise your child.  You can of course learn from books and other people, but read and listen prayerfully with discernment regarding your child.  Listen to your own heart because no one knows and loves your child like you do.

 

How is the stage your child is in now a gift to you?

 

Do you have a story to share how you discovered a new gift in your child that you had not noticed before?

 

Anyone have a story of wisdom coming at just the right time?