Bearing babies and raising children is the greatest experience in this natural life. Children are eternal gifts--not just for a time, but for eternity.
Of course children are not only a gift of God, but also the work of God. That's a full-time job, but with that big job come big rewards and lots of benefits. You should be very proud to be a parent, because yours is the greatest work in the world--molding the future. The world of tomorrow is what the parents of today make it, according to the way they raise their children.
Never minimize the training of your children. Did you ever realize that the most important things children are going to learn in their lifetimes, they learn before they're five years old? So just think how important it is that you teach and train them right during those first formative years. That's why the Bible says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
You can't wait till your child is five years old before you begin teaching him or her. Every single day counts, and what that child learns each day is important. You as a parent are responsible to see to it that your child is not only fed, clothed, protected, and kept healthy, but also that your child is taught God's Word, trained in His truth, and inspired with His love.
Some parents have the wrong attitude that if their kids learn, they learn, and if they don't, they don't. While children shouldn't be forced to learn something they don't want to learn, the truth of the matter is that all children want to learn. They're happier and feel more fulfilled when they are learning, and they can learn a lot more with a parent's guidance and encouragement than if they are just left to learn on their own.
My mother and father placed great importance on teaching me about the Bible, the Lord, spiritual values, and biblical truths. Bible stories and the Bible itself were a tremendous influence in my life. I loved them and believed them because I knew they were the voice of God and the Book of God. As a result, my knowledge of God's Word and its truths were what guided my decisions and kept me through many difficult situations as I grew older.
It's simple to teach your young children about Jesus. Just do it from your heart! Point them to the Lord by your example and your love, and by talking to them about Jesus.
As soon as they're old enough to understand what a mother or a father is--someone who loves them and takes care of them, who helped create them and gave birth to them--they're old enough to receive Jesus as their Savior. Just explain that there is a great unseen Father who is everywhere and loves us all very much, but because we've all been bad and deserve to be punished, He sent Jesus to take our punishment for us. Then have them repeat a simple prayer like the following:
Dear Jesus, please forgive me for being bad. Please come into my heart and help me to be good.
That's all they have to do! Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:14). He's just waiting to become their Best Friend and Savior!
May God help us to be good stewards of the most precious gifts He's given us--our children!
Written by D.B. Berg and excerpted from Activated magazine. Used with permission.
It’s amazing the clarity of thought I have. It’s like the world has suddenly slowed down its insane pace. Each second seems like an hour. Time has stopped to watch me fall. The world around me is a kaleidoscope of madly spinning colors. Blue sky blending nauseatingly with gray pavement, and then back again. I’d be panicking, except reality hasn’t sunk in yet, probably a result of the whisky.
I am going to die. It’s funny how I’m not afraid. Somehow I feel like I’m not really here, like I’m watching someone else through a window. Someone else about to die.
They’ll probably write me off as another suicide case. Another rich guy with problems who dove off a skyscraper. They’ll search the penthouse and find the half-empty whisky bottle on the roof. A story will probably be printed in the Times, construing the reasons I jumped.
But that’s where they’ll be wrong. I didn’t jump. I wish I could clear that up somehow. Show them that I was sitting on the railing. Show them how I leaned just a little too far back. Show them that I’m not suicidal. It’s too late for that, though.
What bothers me is that this is how I will be remembered. My children will grow up thinking their dad killed himself. Jamie’s only five. Little Mariangela is barely two years old. How do you explain something like that to a two-year-old?
I should have spent more time with them. My wife Kyla too. She might not have left yesterday if I had been around more. What was it for anyway? The promotion? I put in so many hours of overtime, I probably set a record. Trying to impress the boss. What was that—three years ago? Now here I am, a partner in the largest law firm in the city. Filthy rich. Time‘s “Man of the Year.” I spent so long trying to make it to the top, and when I finally made it, I realized that I left behind everything that really mattered. Hence the whisky.
Humans are so unintelligent. We’re too proud to learn from others’ mistakes—we have to make our own. How many times had I heard somebody’s sob story about how he lost his family because he worked too hard? But no, I was so sure it would never happen to me. It’s amazing Kyla put up with me as long as she did. What was I, nuts? I had a beautiful wife and two beautiful children who I never spent time with. I was at work before they even woke up. The only time they saw me was if they were up when I came home late at night. I wasn’t even there on the weekends. Putting in 16-hour workdays.
How could I have been so stupid? I actually believed that being rich would make us happy. Pathetic. And then I actually ran out of things to buy.
I wonder what I put in my will? I can’t even remember. Probably gave it all to Kyla. What is she going to do with all those millions? Give it away, probably. She never did care about money. She told me almost every week that money couldn’t buy happiness. I didn’t believe her.
I’m getting close to the ground; I can see the cracks in the sidewalk now. I close my eyes and wait. It should be any second now.
A minute goes by, then another. I don’t want to open my eyes, so I wait.
Another minute, and yet another. Finally I open my eyes.
I’m in my bed. In my own house. Not lying splattered on the sidewalk. Kyla is lying beside me. An annoyingly persistent noise grabs my attention—it’s the clock beside my bed, alerting me to the fact that it’s now 5:30. Time to get up and go to the office.
What just happened? Was it a dream? It couldn’t have been a dream. I remember it all too clearly. The divorce papers Kyla had served me with, the whisky I had been drinking on the roof, the fall.
I turn off the alarm.
If it wasn’t a dream, I can only conclude that I have been given a second chance. It felt like something out of a movie. Whatever it is, I’m grateful for it.
I unplug the phone by the bed and turn the alarm clock off. Kyla will be astonished that I’m still here when she gets up later this morning. I haven’t taken a vacation in three years. Tomorrow we’ll go to the beach for a week. If my boss doesn’t like it, he can fire me. I don’t care. I might quit anyway.
I’ll tell him that I realized there’s more to life than money.
The primary factor in raising children is love. If parents can just learn to treat their children with love and consideration, the children will feel loved and secure.
Most parents can't be with their children all the time, but it's difficult for small children to understand that. Children think they should be the most important things in the world to their parents, so when the parents can't show them constant attention because of other obligations, it hurts the children--and of course, the more children you have, the less individual time and attention you can give each one.
That's why it's so important for parents to tune in to their children and give them love and attention when they do have the opportunity. Give each one lots of love and encouragement, because words have the power to build them up and help them feel loved. "Look what a big boy you are! We're so proud of you. You've learned so much!" Say things that will let them know they really are special to you.
Small children, especially, don't yet have a concept of time, so if you give one child something and tell the others that theirs will come next time, "next time" will probably seem a long way away and very nebulous. So in most cases when you give one something, you should try to do a little something special for the others too.
You can't and shouldn't treat all of your children the same all the time. Each needs to know they are special in their own way. And when one needs something that the others don't, they have to be taught that it's according to need, not because one is more loved. If you take one out to get a needed pair of shoes, for example, and you bring the others back a little toy or something that may cost only a few cents, this shows that you love them and remembered them too.
A lot of adults don't realize how important it is to explain things to children. You can't just assume that they understand. How can they understand hardly anything unless you explain it to them? Most adults don't take things without some kind of explanation, and children have as much right to an explanation as anybody. If you think there could be any question in their minds or hurt feelings, explain. Even if they can't understand everything you say, just the fact that you try to explain it conveys to them that you're concerned about their feelings, and that will help.
It's nearly always a problem when somebody else comes along, like a new baby, who they think is going to take their place. Children's feelings are just the same as adults', only difficult situations can be even more traumatic for children when they haven't experienced those things before and therefore don't have the assurance that things usually work out in the end. That's why children are so much more vulnerable than adults, because of their very limited experience. So you have to treat children even more carefully and tenderly and considerately than adults.
It breaks my heart when I see parents in public places cuff their child on the head or lash out over something that the poor child probably didn't understand in the first place. It's tragic! Children are more sensitive and more easily hurt than adults. They instinctively love and trust their parents, and to destroy that is really sad!
A little love goes a long way! Children are bound to have problems, but no matter what the problem stems from, love can correct it. "Love covers over all wrongs" (Proverbs 10:12 NIV). Just a little love and concern can make up for a lot of mistakes and failures, no matter who or what is to blame. Love is the answer!
Excerpted from Activated Magazine. Used with permission.
I recently heard a story from Stephen Glenn about a famous research scientist who had made several very important medical breakthroughs. He was being interviewed by a newspaper reporter who asked him why he thought he was able to be so much more creative than the average person. What set him so far apart from others?
He responded that, in his opinion, it all came from an experience with his mother that occurred when he was about two years old. He had been trying to remove a bottle of milk from the refrigerator when he lost his grip on the slippery bottle and it fell, spilling its contents all over the kitchen floor—a veritable sea of milk!
When his mother came into the kitchen, instead of yelling at him, giving him a lecture, or punishing him, she said, "Robert, what a great and wonderful mess you have made! I have rarely seen such a huge puddle of milk. Well, the damage has already been done. Would you like to get down and play in the milk for a few minutes before we clean it up?"
Indeed, he did. After a few minutes, his mother said, "You know, Robert, whenever you make a mess like this, eventually you have to clean it up and restore everything to its proper order. So, how would you like to do that? We could use a sponge, a towel, or a mop. Which do you prefer?" He chose the sponge and together they cleaned up the spilled milk.
His mother then said, "You know, what we have here is a failed experiment in how to effectively carry a big milk bottle with two tiny hands. Let’s go out in the back yard and fill the bottle with water and see if you can discover a way to carry it without dropping it." The little boy learned that if he grasped the bottle at the top near the lip with both hands, he could carry it without dropping it. What a wonderful lesson!
This renowned scientist then remarked that it was at that moment that he knew he didn’t need to be afraid to make mistakes. Instead, he learned that mistakes were just opportunities for learning something new, which is, after all, what scientific experiments are all about. Even if the experiment doesn’t work, we usually learn something valuable from it.
Wouldn’t it be great if all parents would respond the way Robert’s mother responded to him?
If a child lives with criticism
He learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility
He learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule
He learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame
He learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance
He learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement
He learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise
He learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness
He learns justice.
If a child lives with approval
He learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance & friendship
He learns to find love in the world.
- Dorothy Law Nolte
It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself.—Joyce Maynard
I don't know what planet I was on when I thought that when I became a parent, all the skills I'd need would simply come to me. It wasn't long before I realized that parenting, for the countless incomparable joys it has brought into my life, is hard work. Being a parent has meant adjusting my aspirations and priorities to match my new reality. Every day is a learning process as I adapt to the evolving needs of my children.--Katiuscia Giusti
Children keep us in check. Their laughter prevents our hearts from hardening. Their dreams ensure we never lose our drive to make ours a better world. They are the greatest disciplinarians known to mankind.--Queen Rania of Jordan, Hello Magazine
If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
No one ever promised me it would be easy, and it's not. But I also get many rewards from seeing my children grow, make strong decisions for themselves, and set out on their own as independent, strong, likable human beings. And I like who I am becoming, too. Having [children] has made me more human, more flexible, more humble, more questioning.—Anonymous father
When seen only as presiding over a child's growth, parenting can be frustrating and burdensome. However, when seen as an opportunity for personal growth for adults, parenting is one of the most creative and affirming experiences that life offers. It gives us chances to improve ourselves and broaden our own personal horizons as we model for our children the qualities we would like to see in them. For some of us, our own children give us a chance to become the parents we wish that we had.—Jack C. Westman, M.D.
Originally published in Activated Magazine. Used with permission.
I grew up around creeks, lakes, and rivers, but when I was sixteen I went to Atlantic City, New Jersey, and saw the ocean for the first time. At the boardwalk the night we arrived, I walked out on a wooden pier. As the first thunderous waves crashed beneath my feet, I grabbed the railing, terrified. Since then I have had a cautious fondness for the ocean. I've never been a strong swimmer, but I love the look of the ocean, the feel of sand between my toes, and even the weightless feeling of being lifted from my feet and carried about by gentle waves—as long as I have something buoyant to hang onto.
So when we spent a summer near the beach and my two teenage sons developed a keen interest in boogie boarding, I could relate. I was happy to see them securely tethered to their boards a hundred yards out in the water, waiting for that perfect wave. But as time went on, they got braver and braver, insisting that the perfect wave was to be found further and further out to sea. I would sit on the shoreline watching the dots that were my sons in the midst of all that blue ocean and try to control my anxiety.
Sometimes a mistake parents make is letting worry be the guideline for deciding what their children are able to do. If something causes the parents to worry, they won't let their children do it. Worry seems almost a necessary part of parenting. It is a sign of love and concern. It is also a warning signal that it's time to pray. I think worry can actually be a good thing when it causes us to channel our negative, anxious thoughts into a prayer that can help bring about a positive outcome in that situation.
It is our responsibility to train our children and lead them in the right direction, but at a certain point we need to pull back and trust God to keep them from serious harm. As children grow, they need to be able to learn through an ever-broadening range of experiences; they need to learn to take responsibility for themselves, and they need to learn to pray themselves when "out in the deep blue sea."
It gives them a sense of security, though, to know that their parents are "on the shore," still looking after them and still vigilant in prayer—like the time when one of my sons experienced a moment of sheer panic after a wave caught him off guard and knocked him for a loop, and the cord that tethered him to his boogie board slipped off. He thought he was going to drown, but he remembered that I was on the beach praying for him, and he called out to God himself. He knew in that instant he was going to be okay, and he was.
As my kids grow up and move away, I think it's important that they know they have a mother who prays for them. That also reminds them to turn to God in moments of anxiety. I can't be there to hold them up, but He can. I can't meet all their needs or solve all their problems for them, but He can work miracles when they exercise their faith and pray.
Excerpted from Activated Magazine. Used with permission.
If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place,
But have not love, I am a housekeeper, not a homemaker.
If I live for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements,
But have not love, my children learn of cleanliness, not godliness.
Love leaves the dust in search of a child’s laugh.
Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window.
Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk.
Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys.
Love is present through the trials.
Love reprimands, reproves, and is responsive.
Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, runs with the child,
Then stands aside to let the child walk into adulthood.
Love is the key that opens salvation’s message to a child’s heart.
Before I became a mother, I took glory in my house of perfection.
Now I glory in God’s perfection of my children.
As a mother, there is much I must teach my children,
But the greatest of all is love.
—Author unknown (based on the Bible, 1 Corinthians chapter 13)
A partially deaf boy came home from school one day carrying a note from officials at the school. The note suggested that the parents take the boy out of school, claiming that he was "too stupid to learn."
The boy's mother read the note and said, "My son Tom isn't 'too stupid to learn.' I'll teach him myself." And so she did.
When Tom died many years later, the people of the United States of America paid tribute to him by turning off the nation's lights for one full minute. You see, this Tom had invented the light bulb--and not only that, but also motion pictures and the record player. In all, Thomas Edison had more than one thousand patents to his credit.
--God's Little Devotional Book for Moms
* * *
"My mother was the making of me. She was so true and so sure of me, I felt that I had someone to live for--someone I must not disappoint. The memory of my mother will always be a blessing to me."
--Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931)
* * *
When he was a teenager, Jim worked for a grocer in Hamilton, Missouri. He liked the work and had plans to make a career of it. One night he came home and proudly told his family about his sly employer. The grocer had a practice of mixing low quality coffee with the expensive brand and thus increasing his profit. Jim laughed as he told the story at the supper table.
His father didn't see anything funny about the practice. "Tell me," he said, "if the grocer found someone palming off an inferior article on him for the price of the best, do you think he would think they were just being sly, and laugh about it?"
Jim could see his father was disappointed in him. "I guess not," he replied. "I guess I just didn't think about it that way."
Jim's father instructed him to go to the grocer the next day and collect whatever money was due him and tell the grocer he wouldn't be working for him any longer. Jobs were not plentiful in Hamilton, but Jim's father would rather his son be unemployed than associated with a crooked businessman.
J.C. Penny came that close to becoming a grocer. Instead he founded the retail chain that still bears his name. He shares the secret of his success in the title of his autobiography: Fifty Years with the Golden Rule.
* * *
One father confessed that he hadn't realized how dishonest he'd been with his son until he learned a hard lesson. His son received a very low grade in English. In spite of scoldings and extra study, it seemed the boy simply could not bring up his grade. One day he said to his father, "I guess when you went to school you got all A's in English."
"What makes you say that?" the father asked.
"Well, if you didn't do well," said the son, "you wouldn't scold me the way you do."
The way he had corrected his son was a misrepresentation of the truth. "No, the fact is that I had a really hard time with English," the father replied. "Especially spelling."
From that moment on the boy did better, freed from the impression that he was inferior and a failure. Seeing that his dad had the same problems, but succeeded, gave him hope.
Originally published in Activated Magazine. Used with permission.