Wednesday, August 01, 2007

WFMW - Parenting with G.R.A.C.E.

Today's Works-for-Me Wednesday is The Great Parenting Advice Edition, in which, as Shannon puts it, "(we) share (our) best tip for imparting wisdom and character in the future generation of citizens. Or keeping everyone in one piece, whichever works"

So today I'm sharing a notes from the small group presentation that I did last fall. It's decidedly Christian because for me, being a Christian is vital for being a good parent. However, the main principles are valid and can be useful regardless of your beiiefs.

Even after nearly 15 years of parenting I still have lots of room to grow in these areas. So I'm working at parenting with G.R.A.C.E. (and with His grace too.)

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.
--Washington Irving

"Where will our country find leaders with integrity, courage, strength—all the family values—in ten, twenty, or thirty years? The answer is that you are teaching them, loving them, and raising them right now."
--Barbara Bush

Men are what their mothers made them.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path
--Agatha Christie (1890 - 1976)

Parenting Your Kids with G.R.A.C.E.

Growing - Remember that your kids are growing. And so are you.

Zechariah 4:10 For who has despised the day of small beginnings.

Remember your kids are small (doesn’t mean that you’re overlooking bad behavior) but don’t be so surprised that they’re acting like kids. I am all for having high expectations of children. But your children are not little adults so don’t expect them to act like adults. Remember though that they’re growing every day, even though it’s sometimes hard to see it but when we look back a year from now, you'll see. And we’re growing too! We need to celebrate the little victories in our lives and the lives of our kids! (not beat ourselves up so much or be too hard on our kids.)

It's not only children who grow.  Parents do too.  As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.  I can't tell my children to reach for the sun.  All I can do is reach for it, myself.  ~Joyce Maynard

Respect - (Admire deeply as result of their abilities qualities and achievements.)

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humlilty of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Ephesians 5:21 ...and be subject to one another in the fear of the Lord.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, give preference to one another in honor;

There is no reason that we would give less respect to our children than we do to others. But sometimes we’re guilty of that. Our children deserve "please" and "thank-you." And when we've blown it, they deserve a "I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?

"A sentence from Psalm 101 has been both challenging and convicting for me: 'I will walk in my house with blameless heart' (Psalm 101-2, NIV). When God speaks to me about being more loving, this verse reminds me to make application in my family first—and then to others. It forces me to ask, 'Am I more spiritual, more loving, or more fun somewhere else? Who gets my best—my family or others?'"
--Jean Fleming, A Mother’s Heart

Listening is a high art of loving. Ask yourself, "When was the last time I really listened to my child? My parent? My brother or sister?" When someone is ready to share, three magic words amplify your connection, and they are: "Tell me more."
--Rev. Mary Manin Morrissey

"It’s important to let our kids know we are aware of our inadequacies. Tell them. You have nothing to lose in honestly admitting to them that you didn’t do everything correctly as a parent. The admission may be the key to opening communication and beginning the process of healing your relationships with your kids."
--Stephen Arterburn and Jim Burns, When Love is not Enough

Accept - (regard favorably and with approval, welcome) We need to accept our children. They may not think like we do or like the things we like. They may be polar opposites of everything that makes sense to us, but they have to know that we accept them as God made them to be. And that will give them so much freedom to live the lives that God has for them.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

"Let your eyes light up when your children are around. Laugh more. Tell them how empty and quiet it is when they’re not there. Enjoy the things they bring to your life. Attend their activities, not as if they were compulsory for parents, but throw yourself into their lives."
--Valerie Bell, Getting Out of your Kids’ Faces and into Their Hearts

Creative - Each child is different, unique; what works for one child might not work for another. There are a lot of parenting formulas out there, but you have to take them all and create your own parenting formula according to the needs of your children. All children need discipline and training, but remember to build and be positive or you will beat down their spirits.
Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

1 Corinthians 12:18 & 27 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired....Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

"I praise loudly, I blame softly."
-- Catherine the Great, as quoted in A Man’s Work is Never Done, by David Z. Nowell

"When correcting a child, the goal is to apply light, not heat."
--Woodrow Wilson

"Discipline is demanded of the athlete to win a game. Discipline is required for the captain running his ship. Discipline is needed for the pianist to practice for the concert. . . .If parents believe standards are necessary, then discipline certainly is needed to attain them."
--Gladys Brooks, as quoted in The Gift of Family by Naomi Rhode

Enjoy - Don’t get so hung up on trying to get your children to grow up that you miss this precious special time - it’s fleeting. Sometimes we get in such a rush to “mature” them through a stage that we lose sight of the wonder of their childhood. We can’t get that time, with all it’s joys and frustrations, back so we shouldn’t waste it.

Do we act like our children are a gift from the Lord. Do they know that we feel that way about them? They should.

Psalm 127:3-5 Behold children are a gift of the Lord; The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They shall not be ashamed, When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

Ps.127:3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.

You have a lifetime to work, but children are only young once.  ~Polish Proverb

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
--Diane Loomans, from If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again

What feeling is so nice as a child’s hand in yours? So small, so soft and warm, like a kitten huddling in the shelter of your clasp.
A child's hand in yours what tenderness and power it arouses. You are instantly the very touchstone of wisdom and strength.
--Marjorie Holmes

Finally, to parent with G.R.A.C.E. we need Christ.

Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;

Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

We need Christ and His grace. We need Christ to show us the “way” that our children should go. He alone can truly show us. Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God- who more than our children need that? We have to rely on Christ and His grace toward us to be able to extend grace to our children. We didn’t deserve it but he have it to us anyway and as His Children he extends us that grace everday.

Need to depend on Him for the kind of 1 Corinthians 13 love parenting requires.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, Love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

This is the kind of love I want to have for my kids but this kind of love comes from Christ alone. In and of myself I can’t produce and sustain it. But it’s the kind of love my kids need and the way that God wants me to parent them.

More great WFMW tips.