Monday, May 6, 2013

Three of the Best Gifts We Can Give Our Children

When I started to write this post, the refrain from the song, "Tis a Gift to Be Simple," started running through my head.  This seemed fitting since the gifts I am going to highlight are simple though not necessarily easy. 
  1. Time.  Recently I heard a father of two grown children pose the question, "How do kids spell love?"  His answer: T-I-M-E.  Personally, I agree.  Sure, kids can get pretty excited about a new toy or the latest gadget, but when it comes down to it, what they want most is time with us, their parents.  Quality time, that is.  I can't tell you how sad it makes me to see a parent and child come into a coffee shop to have breakfast or something together and then to see the parent be on their phone the whole time.  Granted I don't have a smartphone yet, but honestly parents, put down your phone.  Your children want and need you!
  2. Faith.  I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking I'm saying this just because I'm a pastor.  But the truth is, faith is caught more than it is taught.  So when you think of the faith you want your child to have as she gets older, the best barometer is your own faith life.  Do you want a child who has a rich prayer life?  Then make sure you pray together and that she sees you praying.  Do you want your child to have a faith that helps her weather life's storms?  Then take her to worship, ask her what she thinks, and read her Bible stories so that she learns to trust the God who created and loves her.  I know this can be a pretty intimidating thing, but God gave you your child because God believed you were the best person to raise her.  So take heart that you don't have to have a perfect faith or all the answers.  And in case you want some resources or ideas to help you get started, here are a few:
    • Take the Christmas cards you receive (the ones with pictures are especially great) and put them on a ring or gather them with a rubber band.  Throughout the year, pray as a family for the people you received cards from.
    • The Jesus Storybook Bible.  There are lots of great children's Bibles out there, but this is one of my favorites.  It makes the biblical story very readable and the pictures are really neat.
    • Light a candle when you eat a meal together as a family as a reminder that God is with you.  Then take turns sharing highs and lows and where you have seen God in your lives that day or week.
  3. A Healthy Body Image.  "How can I expect my daughters to be comfortable in their skin if I'm not comfortable in mine?"  This was the question posed by the author of a recent article in Parents magazine.  The author then went on to wonder if low self-esteem was inevitable for her daughters.  I don't think it has to be.  And the best way to give your children a healthy body image and inner confidence is to borrow a page out of one mom's playbook.  The author writes, "My friend Nancy's mom was neither overly critical nor overly complimentary about her daughter's bodies.  Instead, what she did was show them what their bodies could do by doing those things herself...climbing trees, playing baseball."  In similar fashion, the best thing you and I can do for our children is to show them what we are good at...granted, that might not be climbing trees, but it might be showing empathy, running marathons, or growing vegetables.  It might even include, taking a deep breath, throwing off our towel, and jumping into a pool.  :)

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