Our Free Book To You (7-9)

To Raise Our Children Again

Chapter 7

All Things Big and Small

 

The scriptures state that in the last days there will be an ungrateful generation. We aren’t saying this is that generation necessarily, but we should work with our children as if it was. 

The world is continually telling them that they are owed everything, and all things should be done for them without them having to do anything in return. This has created a generation that has an entitlement attitude. As a result, when things are given to them or done for them, they don't really appreciate it. 

As parents, we need to help our children grow a huge thankful heart. We need to consistently teach them the importance of being thankful. Thankfulness is an honorable mindset, it maintains a grateful heart which has the powerful ability to liberate us by keeping us in a positive frame of mind.  Scientific research has stated that people who consciously choose daily to be thankful are happier and healthier. We should  begin to implement this when they first learn how to speak, have them saying “thank you” to everyone for everything. ”Thank you” is one of those easy phrases all babies can learn early.

Life is so full of ungrateful people, even Christians. You run into so many who are void of being thankful. An unthankful heart is dangerous because it leads to so many other bad attitudes. It is such a powerful truth that a good heart is a grateful heart. When our hearts are  not thankful we will miss those things with which we have been blessed and sadly never see the blessing. So many do not realize they have been blessed because their eyes are not open through the avenue of thankfulness.  A thankful heart sees everything as a blessing. It keeps a positive atmosphere about things that happen to us. 

We taught our children to always be thankful, and our hope is that they still have that heart. We did things with them all the time showing them how blessed they were. We tried to show them how to enjoy some of the simplest things in life, and to be grateful for them no matter how big or small. As parents we are to teach them how thankful they should be for what they have been given. We need to remind our children to remember how it felt when they blessed someone and that person was truly thankful. It makes a heart feel joyful and appreciated and it makes you feel good about yourself. Again, this is the power of a grateful heart. 

For a short time I managed a food pantry for the poor in our city. Many times I would bring a couple of my daughters with me. We would box up the food and people would come in and give us their names and we would then give the prepared box of food to them. You saw all types, some you wondered if they were just using the system and others who you knew needed the help. One day a mother and her son came in, when the boy, probably under the age of ten, saw the carton of food with a box of cereal in it, excitedly he said, “Momma we’re getting cereal!”   I could tell by the expression on my girl's faces what needed to be done. So I had one of the girls get another box of cereal off the shelf and put it into their carton full of food. I could tell they were so happy to be able to give that extra box of cereal to the little boy. On the way home that afternoon the discussion that followed about being thankful for what we do have was priceless.  You have to know I was a pastor of a smaller church and money was always tight. But our girls knew we had cereal in the pantry and now there was a whole new attitude about it.  Looking back I am so glad they were with me that day.

Think about this, even negative things may be a blessing in disguise. How many times has something happened to you that was negative? You may have been passed up for a promotion, you were not invited to an event, but a few days or even a few months go by and in the turn of events you realize it was a blessing in disguise. You may even be thanking God that it didn't work out because if it had then you would be in the middle of that mess. Even if it feels negative now, God could be protecting us from something in the future. Our hearts need to be thankful that God always has our best in mind. People with this kind of attitude live better lives. Is this not the attitude we want our children to grow up with? Our children need to know that God always has their best in mind and they just need to be thankful. Even when life may serve us a negative situation we can still find things with which to be thankful.

How much more should we desire for our children to live a life of thankfulness, and to emphasize why it is important to keep a grateful heart.  So yes, if we were to go back, we would spend more time training our children how to have a huge thankful heart for all things big and small. 

Chapter 8

In The Moment

Spending time with our children, being with them, playing, conversing, just being together can no doubt be one of the most important things we can do as parents. But we are not just talking about spending more time with them, but being there with them “In the Moment”. When we are spending time with them we need to be there, not somewhere else in our mind. We need to be present with them, all the way present, not just geographically there. Every parent knows they need to spend time with their child, but actually enjoy being there with them and not just putting in time. There is a difference. 

Often we found ourselves just putting in the time but our mind was somewhere completely different. We need to be there with them 100%, we cannot stress this enough.  When a child knows their parent is there all the way present, it means the world to them. Whether we believe it or not a child knows when we are all the way there.  As parents, to our children, until they become a certain age, we are their world. What mommy and daddy do, what they think and say are everything to them. They know no other world. When you are in the moment with your child, they register this as, “I’m important”. They also register this as I got mommy or daddy all to myself. Believe it or not this is “Our Moment”, this is where we have the opportunity to shine or not. We get to be in their presence for no reason other than we want to. 

As a christian we should be doing this with God. We would call it spending quality time with God.  If you are married you should be doing this with your spouse. In fact, your spouse can usually tell when you are there but not really there all the way with them. They may even say you’re here but you are not really listening. They know when you have that ‘deer in the headlight look’. It is no different with your children. Just because they are young and may not comprehend everything yet, would you want them knowing you are there but not really caring about them or your time with them?  Of course not. 

 When I first started spending time with God, I mean actually setting apart time in the early morning for Him and Him only, there were those moments when I could feel His tangible presence more than other mornings. I got to know Him during these times. I got to know a more intimate, deeper God. Those moments became landmarks to me. I would walk away with a greater sense that I knew Him more personally, but also I came away with the sense that He knew me more personally. The relational part grew and it wasn't  just a discipline or exercise of spending time with Him. Relationally I knew Him better, and deeper. I sensed His presence. Because I began to know Him personally, I got to know His personality. With God I remember when He wasn't just God almighty but a person to me. 

Now don't try to throw some kind of theological jab at me, I believe He is still fully God. But sitting in His presence meant we went from acquaintance to a person with a personality. His personality helped me understand the scriptures better, because now I knew the author. This happened because of being there with Him in the moment. I wasn’t trying to get something from Him I was just there to be there. 

When I first met my wife, we would spend time together, quality time. This time spent allowed us to get to know each other better. I enjoy my wife, we enjoy our time together. We are absolutely free to be who we are with each other, never fearing being exposed or misunderstood. I know the person of my wife, and everything that goes with being in her presence and I enjoy her presence.  The same is true for your children. 

Our six daughters have such diverse personalities and each of them are unique in their own way. This uniqueness is the blueprint of who they are.  It's who God made them.  As a parent you get to know your children, all of their  likes, dislikes, and little quirks. All of those things that make them who they are and separates them from their siblings. We have always enjoyed their distinct personalities. It's what made them, them. I would not change any part of their personalities. When they were wrong we would correct and discipline, but never try to change who they were. We loved who they were and are today. Spending all those “in the moment” times allowed us the enjoyment and appreciation of who they are.  

This is what we mean by “In The Moment”, giving them our full attention without it being some sort of discipline or obligation on our part, but just to be with them. We remember all those sweet moments we did have with our children and still do from time to time. 

So if we could go back and raise our children again, wow, we would definitely live for more of  those "In The Moment" times with them. Moments of getting to be in their presence and letting them know Daddy and Mommy like being with them as a person. To spend that time just connecting with them for no other reason but to be with them.

Chapter 9

Just For The Fun

 

We know this may seem similar to “In The Moment”, but we separated them because they really are two different things. One is about quality time and this one is about letting our children be free to be themselves right where they are in life.  As parents we get so caught up in getting our children to just grow up, we forget they are growing up. We want to teach them to be responsible so that one day that’s exactly what they are, a responsible adult, they are all grown up. Of course this is good, this is what we want. But so often we miss out on just enjoying them. We strive hard at working with them to grow up and be mature, that we do not allow them to just be children, and they miss out on enjoying right where they are in life as well. When our children are small we slowly train them to do things for themselves and we tell them how proud we are that they are big now because they know how to do something.  They learn from us that the goal is to be bigger. This is where it begins for them. Instead we need to take the pressure off of them to be big and make sure they are not missing out on enjoying being little.

Think about this, how often do we generally say, “Oh if only they could stay this age right here.”  We know they will not, and in fact they will grow out of that age in life rather quickly. But did you enjoy them? Did you get to enjoy that phase or age, or did you work too hard to get them to grow up?  If they are five, enjoy everything about the age of five with them. They will only be five once. Their innocence is precious when they are just learning about life.While things may be obvious to us it isn’t to them yet. For instance, our 3 and 5 year old were in our water-bed supposedly sleeping but we could hear them making noise, so their Dad went to check on them. They heard him coming down the hallway and when he opened the door they acted like they were asleep. They were laying there with eyes closed and their little angelic faces looking sound asleep however the water bed was moving up and down like the surf coming into a beach.  It was so cute that he just walked out laughing, instead of them getting into trouble we just enjoyed the fact that they thought they were getting away with something. Another time as we were telling our children Christmas was just around the corner, our youngest at that time was maybe three years old got up and went and looked around the corner of the room. All of us burst out into laughter after realizing what she was doing. We need to enjoy this innocence of who they are and treasure those times as well as letting them enjoy the age they are too. 

You have heard people say they are working so hard to get to their destination, they didn't enjoy the journey. As parents we need to know that just as importantly our children are on a journey.  

We work so hard at getting somewhere, that we don't enjoy where the journey has us right now with them or where the journey has them. Instead, we need to take the time to enjoy the journey with them, letting them know mommy and daddy are enjoying this with you. 

Life is going to bring so many things their way, some good and some not so good, but teaching them how to just stop and enjoy where they are “right now” will help them enjoy life later as adults. They will mature into a more confident and secure adult and it will keep them from being driven.  When things are beyond their control they will know how to stop and enjoy life right then. This will help  teach them how to make the best of any given situation, whether positive or negative.

As  parents, we enjoyed goofing off with our children. We would take them to the toy store and turn them loose. We use to think the workers knew us whenever we would show up, roll their eyes and say, “Oh no here’s that family again”. We would let them run through the store, not like some wild kids out of control, we taught them to be polite, show some manners, but we would let them be the children they should be in a toy store. They could get on all the bikes and play with the toys, they were allowed to pick them up and check them out. They had fun, and we had fun with them! Usually we would pick out some kind of toy they could bring home. Once we bought everyone a squirt gun, but not just any squirt gun a soaker 50, of course as the dad I got the soaker 100, we went home and played with them the entire afternoon. 

We had all daughters but as their dad I would play dolls with them sometimes, or at least the best I could while keeping my masculinity intact. We see many parents working so hard getting their children to just grow up that they forget to just take a break, enjoy life, learn how to be with your children where they are right now.

Life can be hard, we work hard to get the necessary money to have all the things we want or need, but did we enjoy life with our children? So often people think this takes money, but all it takes is having fun with your children right where you are in life. We would turn out all the lights in the house and play hide and seek. We would move the furniture in our living room and play football, but for me (the dad), the rule was I had to stay on my knees. 

 There are those who are always looking for the greener grass, and not enjoying the green grass they are standing on right now. Even if the grass may not be real green we can learn to  be at peace and make the most of the situation and just enjoy what we can right now. We strive and are always pushing forward for the next thing, phase, stage, or whatever that we forget to enjoy our “right nows”. Just enjoy simple things like playing with our children. The drive to get ahead can, many times, creep in and take the fun and joy out of life, and this can influence our children to be driven. Let’s guard ourselves as parents from not taking the time to enjoy each other and the life we have right now with our children.  

So just enjoy each stage, phase, age and everything that brings with it. There is this wonderful person God created and we get to enjoy them. We get to enjoy that special unique person God made them to be and letting them be themselves with all their quirks, likes, and dislikes. We remember the different ages and phases we did have with them and still do from time to time and just the memory brings such joy to our hearts.  But wow, we would definitely live for more of those just having fun moments of playing and goofing off with them and enjoying everything about them. 

So here it is, if we were to go back and raise our children again we would spend even more time just enjoying life right where we are, right at that time. We would also spend more time helping them to enjoy whatever stage of life they are in as well.