Though I may speak the jargon of professors, doctors, and ministers, if I can’t speak so that my own children understand me, then all I do is make educated noise.
Even if I was known as a scholar or a person with mountain-moving faith, unless my children could truly say, “Mommy loves me!”, then I am nothing.
And although I save Campbell’s labels for missions, distribute food boxes to the needy, make a dish for a funeral dinner, give used clothing to the local homeless shelter; even though I carry a signed organ donor card, if I don’t lovingly look to the needs of my own children, all other good works will profit me nothing.
I need to be patient with their immature thinking, stupid mistakes, and know-it-all attitudes; and show kindness in the face of whining, arguing, and pouting. I need to love them as they are, not as I expect them to be. I cannot envy the parent whose child is a better scholar, musician, or athlete than I perceive my child to be. Yet neither should I vaunt my own child’s successes, for to do so would put the burden of proof on my child, who will strive to live up to my sometimes unrealistic expectations, and perhaps never feel good enough.
I should not be rude to my children, even in my own home, where I long to let my hair down, not snap at them when I’m feeling tired or pressured. I need to give them the same respect I give others and be considerate of their feelings, their privacy, their possessions, and even (shudder) their rooms!
I should not keep a tally of my children’s wrongs, and then triumphantly flourish it at a time when it’s convenient for me. To gently show them when and why they are wrong is more effective than harsh punishment that doesn’t fit the crime and serves only to crush their spirits. Insisting my way is the only way will stiffen their resistance, but teaching them right from wrong by example and praying for discernment may someday lead to rejoicing when my children follow the truth.
With God’s help I will never give up believing in them, knowing that He who created them has a wonderful plan for their lives and will complete what He started. Even when they respond to the pull of the world, I will rest on the promise that God’s Word never returns void. They cannot stray so far that my love and prayers cannot follow.
Genuine love outlasts parental sermons that they quickly forget. Even if I could understand insurance policies and all the legalese in which they are written, what good would it do my children if I had no love for them?
I must remember that I, too, was once a child. What wisdom and knowledge I have now were acquired with painful experience.
I must remember that God alone knows their hearts. I see only the outward appearance and assume way too much. Someday God’s plan for each of their lives will unfold like a beautiful flower, and I will understand the trials that seem so hard to get through now.
Faith, hope, and love are the foundation blocks upon which I build my relationship with my children. But the strongest, most enduring block of all is love.