Every congregation should have a “Miss” Bettye. If they gave out awards for uber-grandma’s, she would win. Miss Bettye loves the Lord and she will praise Him no matter the circumstances. In fact, she has been fighting cancer for several years now and I have never heard her do anything but praise the Lord.
Miss Bettye also loves everyone unconditionally. You may disappoint her, but you always see forgiveness in her eyes. You also know that she truly believes you can change for the better no matter what you have done.
The other day I had the chance to have a chat with her. We had just finished watching ten of her eleven great-grandchildren in our church’s children’s program. (Her eleventh was watching in the audience.) I know a number of people who have raised all of their children to be faithful Christians. Miss Bettye is one of the few people I have met who has all faithful children and grandchildren and is seeing her great-grandchildren raised in the same church.
I had to know what her secret was. “Keep the lines of communication open,” she said. As we talked further, I realized that sentence meant a lot. There were actually several tips she had for me in that one statement.
Miss Bettye believes in really talking and listening to your children. Too many parents are afraid to discuss the tough subjects with their children. Whether it is from fear, dread or procrastination, many parents never really tell their children how they feel about important subjects. Sometimes the parent may tell a child something is wrong, but never really explain why they believe what they do. Study after study shows that children really do look to their parents for guidance. Unfortunately, many of them are not receiving the parental help they so badly want and need.
Sharing your beliefs is the most important when it comes to matters that can effect your child’s salvation. As our children get older we hopefully leave matters like career choice, decorating their abodes and diet tastes to our now adult children. We should, however, always express any salvation concerns we have. Not in a judgmental, nagging way, but with concern and love.
Your child’s relationships can have life changing implications. Are you talking with your child about how to choose good friends and dating relationships? Are you talking and listening to their friends and dates? Have you thought about your ability to influence the friends and dates of your child for the Lord? Miss Bettye has. She had even helped convert at least one.
Miss Bettye encourages her family to talk to her about anything. The best way to help your child get through the tough times is to really listen to her. What is the real root of her problem? All of us want someone who really hears us and offers unconditional love. It doesn’t mean we have to approve of their choices, just that at the core of the issue, we love them no matter what. If they know we come from that place, they may just hear and heed our advice a little bit more.
Go grab your child and go out for ice cream and a talk. You might just be surprised to find out what you learn and how much you can influence your child to follow the Lord.