If you have a child under the age of two, you are probably used to conducting a running monologue for your child about everything. You tell him what you see, you ask her questions and then answer them yourself and probably thoroughly amuse bystanders on a regular basis.
Studies have shown you are doing the best thing for your child. The more words your child hears from you, the faster he will develop his own language skills. The constant exposure to your words imprints them in your child’s brain. Eventually she starts to understand those sounds have meaning and the meanings can get her something she wants more effectively than crying. (Maybe that is why my daughter learned to talk so early. I never was very skillful at deciding which cry was for what!)
Some days, as a parent, it seems as if you are in constant correction mode. I remember, during my daughter’s toddler years, there were days I must have said the word “no” at least a hundred times. As our children get older, we may say “no”less often, but we still tend to focus on their behaviors.
What if instead of focusing on our child’s behaviors, we focused on the heart of our child? I am not suggesting we should ignore inappropriate behaviors, but that we also take the time to dig a little deeper.
Last week we were watching Dave Ramsey’s town hall meeting about the economy. My daughter has become a fan of his through his homeschool finance curriculum. At one point, he made a comment that fear is actually the opposite of hope.
Or at least that is what I think I heard, because at that point a huge thunderstorm blew in from the west. The kind where you aren’t sure if it will blow a tree through your house or your roof will get struck by lightening first. The one where even your bravest child starts calling for you and her dad. Of course, the electricity also went out just at the point where the weathermen were about to tell us if it were a tornado heading straight for our house and if Dorothy really just blew by our window.
When your child is young, he is probably more interested in the bow on his present than what is in the box. Eventually, he discovers what is inside is more exciting than the wrapping (unless Martha Stewart is your aunt!). He will eagerly tear the paper to get to what is inside.
God gives everyone gifts or talents. We will teach our child how to open a birthday present, but have we taught her how to open her gifts from God? My guess is many of us still have presents from God we have yet to open. We haven’t even thought about teaching our children how to find and open their own gifts.
One of the more discouraging events of my Christian life occurred shortly after my baptism. I was young, enthusiastic and wanted to start serving the Lord immediately. I asked one of the leaders of the church what I could do and was told I was “too young” to help. Thankfully a more understanding adult overheard the conversation and quickly found a responsibility I could take on at church.
In our desire to help our children enjoy their childhood, I think we have often lost sight of the fact that children want to help. Although they may complain about cleaning their rooms, the idea of being responsible for something important will put a light in almost any child’s eyes.