This is the first of a 4 week parenting series on the topic of capturing our children’s hearts.
The 4 topics are AFFIRMATION, ACCEPTANCE, AFFECTION and AVAILABILITY.
Let’s start with affirmation.
I didn’t grow up in a family where we were affirmed. It didn’t help that I grew up in a single parent home. My mom and dad separated when I was 11 months old, right before my first birthday.
Because that was the case, I grew up very insecure , trying to obtain a sense of significance through different means – athletics, friends, academic achievements. I wasn’t very successful in most of them but when I do squeak right in the achievement zone, it was a HUGE thing. And I mean HUGE. At least for me.
This led me to trying to get affirmation from whoever would give me a pat on the back. I became a people pleaser and while I looked humble on the outside, I was very prideful on the inside, trying to celebrate the win quietly. That ugly head of arrogance shows up every so often like that mole in the Whack-A-Mole game in the amusement park.
When I became a Christian, I realized that I was affirmed, loved and rescued not because of what I can do but because of what He has done for me when He sacrificed Himself on the cross. Realizing this truth, after I became a parent, I endeavored to mirror what my Heavenly Father showed me. He affirmed me in spite of me. That’s just who He is, a God of love.
Parenting is never easy but God’s grace is indeed available. It is so easy to catch our kids doing the wrong thing. It actually takes a deliberate effort at times to catch them doing the right thing. On a white wall, it is easy to focus on the small splotch of dirt than appreciate the whole white wall.
We can be specific with our words of affirmation.
“I appreciate you because…”
“I was pleased to see you…”
“Thank you for…”
This may be quite a challenge at the beginning for the uninitiated, but you’ll get used to it in time.
And you can never over encourage your children. I have yet to hear a toddler say, “Daddy, I already too encouraged by your words. Please stop because I don’t need encouragement anymore.” Believe me, go for it. They need to hear it from you.