We often approach parenting as something that simply occurs over time without much thought. We have daycare, both parents working, career building and long distance family members. And yet, we all know that parenting involves more.
Our kids need our time, not only to teach them how to abide by rules, respect others and learn to cooperate, but also to help them develop positive self esteem, socialization skills and responsibility.
The importance of being a good parent is oftentimes underrated and not fully appreciated. And yet, it is one of the most important jobs we will ever have.
Unconditional Love, Discipline and Grace
I believe there are three very important but basic things we can give our children as they grow up: unconditional love, discipline (structure) and grace. I like to think of it as 3 keys to unlocking the healthy potential for our children.
To feel good about himself, a child needs to feel acceptance and love. Unconditional love says to our child I love and accept you just as you are; you are valued even when I disapprove and am unhappy with your behavior.
It does not mean that they can do whatever they want to do, when they want, or to whom they want. It does not mean that bad manners, being disrespectful or inconsiderate is tolerated or accepted. We love the child but reprimand and correct the behaviors. Misbehavior or hurtful behavior is not acceptable, but they are.
When a child feels loved, they can work on correcting behaviors that are not up to standard and
As we start the New Year, I am continuing my series on Relationships. In this new section, the focus will be on families and parenting and the importance of being an integral part of your child’s upbringing.
In a busy world where more and more time is consumed in making a living, finding quality time to be with our children can be a challenge.
But whether you are a parent or a grandparent, this essential time spent with our families is vital to the health and wellbeing of our children and grandchildren, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually.
Families of Origin
We are a mixture of many things: our personality traits (our habitual patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion), DNA, where we were born, our position in the family, the culture we grow up in, all the experiences we have had, etc.
“What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” Helen Keller
Christmas: a shining star – a break from the tedious schedules we find ourselves in.
But Christmas is more than a nice diversion – a blurb on the radar screen of our hectic lives.
For a moment in time we escaped the drudgery, the pressures, anxiety, and uncertainties.
For a moment in time we humbly knelt before the Christ Child whose birthday we celebrate.
For a moment in time we laid down our heavy burdens of doubt and fear and unanswered questions.
And now Christmas is over for another year: the torn wrappings stuffed in bags ready for the garbage pickup; bows packed away to use again next year. Families have returned home, and we collapse in an easy chair, take a deep sigh of relief and try to relax.
We are left with an afterglow of loving moments, age old songs that brought joy to our spirits and rituals that filled our hearts with special remembrances.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
We have heard the story so many times in Christmas cards, articles and sermons. It is a familiar and treasured tradition – a tradition that today is being challenged on many fronts.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 -King James Version (KJV)
Who is this God
Who is this God who sent His Son as a vulnerable baby to a self-serving world of treachery and deceit? A God who loves us more than we can imagine. A God who knocks gently at our hearts and waits for us to invite Him in.
This last weekend, the Skagit Valley Chorale gave two sold-out performances at McIntyre Hall in Mt. Vernon, WA.
This year’s program was a departure from our more traditional selection. Joining with our 100+ singing group was a Big Band Jazz orchestra. Together with a talented announcer, commercials and special spots, we replicated a 1940’s radio show.
Audience and performers alike loved it.
It is our tradition at the end of our Christmas concerts that the members of the chorale go down into the aisles of the audience to sing our closing number, “Peace, Peace”. It is a moving experience for both singers and people in the audience.
This year, a friend of mine who came for the first time to one of our concerts told me afterwards that when we sang “Peace Peace” in the aisles surrounding them on all sides, it was like having an “invisible blanket of peace wrapped around them.”
Love: It seems we use it so casually – superficially – sometimes even flippantly. We often demean it or reduce it to levels of lustful desire.
God: we exploit Him for our own purposes –throw Him in the trash can when we are no longer interested – group Him together with all the superficial little gods we create to make us feel good.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son to die for us.”
In this simple statement God and love come together in a comprehensive understanding. We are told exactly what kind of love God is offering us: one that is solemn and significant enough that it will die for us. People are being killed today in the name of some god. But would a god of hate die for us? I don’t think so.
Love – we have diminished it – tarnished its value, while desperately needing it. We need to receive it – we need to give it. We cannot live without it.
I love leftovers. I love Thanksgiving dinners: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and all the other special foods and recipes brought out for our traditional dinners.
But I enjoy the leftovers almost as much: warmed in the microwave, I continue to savor that turkey, stuffing and warm gravy.
However, there is more than just the food leftovers that I want to take home with me. I want to take the camaraderie, the moments of laughter when the past wasn’t remembered and the moment was simply enjoyed.
As we stopped and listened to each other for a moment longer than usual, took time to thank and appreciate all the work and effort of our host and hostess it left a glow of togetherness, friendship and closeness.
We all want to be happy. And we want our marriages to not only last, but grow better over time. While some relationships will fail for a variety of reasons, being willing to identify and work on the problems we face is the first major step to a meaningful relationship.
The first years of a marriage tend to be the most vulnerable and statistics reveal that reality. When we are passionately in love, we believe it will last forever.
However, work schedules, babies, chores and home maintenance soon become the focus and we can quickly get mired in daily problems. Add in personal careers and the stresses increase and the relationship begins to suffer.
It is easier than ever to get a divorce and people often hold the mistaken belief that if they get out of their current relationship, the next one would be the one that will make them happy. However, again, the statistics reveal a different picture.
I’ve tried the communication model, but it seems no matter what I do, we still end up arguing. Our conversations keep breaking down.
When I bring up a point of disagreement or conflict, it is interpreted as a criticism and is countered with a negative jab at me. I am reminded of when I did this and that and pretty soon we don’t even remember what the current problem is because we are too busy trying to resolve past issues that are not relevant today.
Why isn’t all this communication stuff working?
Like any skill we develop, communication is an aptitude that needs to be practiced over time to gain competence.
But like any habit we put in place, it is easy to get discouraged and we go back to old ways of doing things.
How do we stay on topic?
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