Friday, February 19, 2016

Parenting: Unconditional Love

Young children are heartlessly honest. (See these letters, if you don’t believe me.) 

They are heartless because they know what they feel, but cannot yet imagine how their words will make someone else feel. As they get older they know very well how their words will be accepted and they still use them. We call that being brutally honest. But, in all fairness, parents are known for giving such honesty as well.

Love is very important to children. They need to know that it is a constant. The quickest way to ruin a child is to withhold love, or make the child feel he or she has to earn it. 

Don't do it. You will just be playing the same game as the letter writer, above.

Loving a child unconditionally, does not mean we give children everything they want, or let them behave anyway they see fit. This is not love; it is neglect. Children need limits and expectations. If they don't have them, they begin to believe they are not capable of meeting any expectations.

Children need to know that  they are loved - no matter what. 

If they do well -- they are loved.

If they fail -- they are loved.

If they are angry -- they are loved.

If you are angry -- they are loved.

If good things happen -- they are loved.

If bad things happen -- they are loved.

They need to know there is nothing they can do to make you love them less AND that there is nothing they can do to make you love them more. 

Love is not negotiable.

Children with the assurance of love can take some risks and try new things. They have a safety net. 

Children with the assurance of love can be corrected and repent. They can do this because they know forgiveness. 

Making a mistake, being corrected, repenting, being forgiven, and learning what is right -- these are all necessary for learning and growing and being healthy.

We can - and should - be honest with our children. It is our job to show them the right way to behave. Children will survive our criticism, and learn from it, when they know they are loved -- no matter what.

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.  For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, ESV

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17, ESV

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"No Rules" play

This school in New Zealand instituted a “no rules” policy on their playground. Children are allowed to climb anything, build whatever they please, and drag all manner of objects to school for public use. 

An inspection of the playground produces numerous hazards in the form of sharp objects and big sticks. It is not unusual to see children climbing in trees taller than the school building. Teachers watch, but are not allowed to intervene.

It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, but the result is a significant drop in bullying and fewer injuries than when the playground had rules. In addition, research conducted at the school shows that student confidence is up as is their ability to concentrate once back in the classroom. Teachers also note an increase in older children stepping in to settle arguments before they become fights.

God built our brains to assess risk. Children need practice in assessing risk in order to learn how to do it. If we protect children from any risk, we deny them the opportunity to learn. 

When, as parents, we try to create a perfectly safe world for our children we are turning parenting into a substitute for God. We cannot keep our children perfectly safe. God knows our children will meet with danger so He designed them to be able to learn from mistakes along the way.

Sometimes we need to step aside and let God do the parenting.

 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11