FACING OUR FEARS – 31 STORIES FROM M.O.M.
By Guest: Lyn Smith
Recently, I made a comment about how fun my older kids are. A friend, with a younger child, asked if I could give her some tips on how that happened. Here is what I shared with her. I pray it encourages and helps you on your parenting journey.
1) Cultivate an atmosphere of joy. Life is funny! We choose to laugh a lot. I have made a conscious effort over the years to smile at my kids. When I catch their eye, I either make a goofy face or give them a warm smile, sometimes with a wink. I try not to let moments just go by but to make them meaningful, even in little ways.
2) Don’t panic or overreact. We weren’t the parents that tore out of the house when a kid fell off their bike. We calmly walked out, picked them up, checked for injuries and spoke soothingly. When milk was spilled, one of us simply got up from the table and cleaned it up. No shouting, no correcting. If it was an accident, it was no big deal. I remember hearing a long time ago, “When you yell at a child, you change who they are.” We wanted to develop confident kids who aren’t afraid to take chances or mess up. Whatever happens, with God’s help we can figure it out. It teaches them to respond rather than react.
3) Be physically affectionate. Give lots of hugs. We did a lot of holding and rocking when they were little. We wanted them to feel loved! As the boys grew, my husband would emphasize that their Mom could hug them wherever and whenever I want. It’s part of how they show respect and gratitude to me. Now that they’re 16 and 23, they hug me often before I hug them. Even in public! My 16 year old will even (not too often anymore) hold my hand while we’re walking. It’s the sweetest thing!! We also wanted them to get all the affection they need from us so they will be less likely to seek it from others.
4) Listen. There is so much instruction the first few years that as they got older, we tried to balance it with more listening. Kids like to talk. I tried as much as was practical to stop what I was doing, and look at them while they talked – to listen with my face not just my ears. We also found that tucking them in bed at night was when they often wanted to talk. So we tried not to hurry that time but to sit on the bed and let them say whatever was on their minds. Those are still some of our best conversations. And yes, we still “tuck” the 16 and 19 year old in bed. They love it!
None of that will work unless it is bathed in prayer. That is of course the most important part – spending time on our knees. We also faithfully go to church, participate in church things and do Bible reading at home. Our faith is the heartbeat of our family. It’s non-negotiable.
We aren’t perfect by any means and neither are our kids, but our home is a fun, safe place filled with love and laughter.