Tuesday, September 23, 2008

When Do I Love You Most?

Starting when my children were small, I wanted them to know how loved they were of the Lord. I would ask them, "When does God love you the most, when you're good or when you're bad?!" And at FIRST they would think when they were "good." I taught them that God loves them the same whether they are good or bad.

I tried to stress the same thing to them as their parent. I love them no matter what. Even though I may be disappointed over something they did, it did not change my love for them.

With consequences for misbehavior in place, I was able to grieve with them when they lost the benefit of doing the right things. For example, I would set a little fun game out before nap time, and explain to them that MY PLAN was to play the game with them after their nap. Then I would say, "now I hope you don't RUIN my plan by taking all this time to take your nap so that we don't have time to play the game together!" If they wouldn't cooperate, I didn't yell or get upset; I rather just got very sad that now I couldn't play the game with them because we spent all the time getting them to sleep.

By having "MY PLAN" set up and showing them that their actions could "interrupt" "my plan" for the best day possible, I believe I taught them how God's plans for our best can be "interrupted" by our actions. I also taught them that I was disappointed when I couldn't give them things I purposed to give them because their actions circumvented my gifts. I was disappointed with them also, because I too wanted to spend quality time playing with them which was now not possible.

Even as my children grew older, I grieved with them when their actions cost them something. When their actions made it so I had to punish them from going to the game or out with friends, etc. I believe that this showed them, from a VERY EARLY age, that it was not my desire to withhold things from them but to give them things. It was their misbehavior that stopped the fun!

Challenge: When you have to withhold something from your child because of their misbehavior, show them that you are disappointed too because you WANTED them to have/do what their actions made you withhold. Let your child FEEL your love for them is strong and sure regardless of whether their behavior pleases you. Set up systems that adequately reward good behavior and become a natural consequence when they don't cooperate. And demonstrate the love of God always because many times a child identifies with God's love for them by how their parents love them!

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