Shaping the Future
Motherhood is the most important job there is. If you don’t believe that, try asking a few people who had the greatest influence on them while they were growing up. It doesn’t matter who you ask, from the humblest to the greatest, the most frequent answer by far will be, “My mother.”
Today’s mothers-and that includes you-are shaping the people who will shape tomorrow’s world. Your children will grow up to be world changers. They may not have an impact on the whole world, but they will have an effect on the world of those around them, for better or for worse. It’s your responsibility to set your children on the right path.
Children are not born with knowledge of the virtues. They must learn what they are.
Attaining virtue is like so much else in life: It takes lots of practice. By putting virtues into action over and over again, we help them take root. Eventually they become second nature—they become part of one’s character.
Your family is the first and most important school of morality. Home is where your child comes to know right and wrong through the nurturing and protective care of those who love him/her more than anyone else. Teachers should be allies in this endeavor, but they cannot be substitutes. Schools cannot replace parents in the crucial task of molding character in the young.
Teach your children to care deeply about the good.
“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 may feel insignificant in the grand scheme of life, but you are daily creating the world that tomorrow’s children will live in. Each decision you make helps to shape the legacy that will be left to them.
Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders. How today’s parents train their children determines the future of the world.
Invest in your children. Give them your time, your attention, your love. They are the future.
Whatever you teach a child, whether it’s through your words or through your actions, lives on forever in his or her heart.
Put a premium on giving your children and young people the well-rounded upbringing they need and deserve.
If you set the right example for your children during their formative years, those bonds of love and respect will be unbreakable. And your children will grow into adults whom you can be proud of.
Quotations from William Bennett, "The Educated Child", "Mottos for Success" desktop quote book and "From Jesus with Love - For Women"
Gifts of Love
A successful young attorney said, "The greatest gift I ever received was a gift I got one Christmas when my dad gave me a small box. Inside was a note saying, 'Son, this year I will give you 365 hours--an hour every day after dinner. It's yours. We'll talk about what you want to talk about, we'll go where you want to go, play what you want to play. It will be your hour!'"
"My dad not only kept his promise," the attorney went on, "but every year he renewed it. That was the greatest gift I ever received. I am the result of his time."
* * *
Some time ago, a friend of mine scolded his three-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper.
He became exasperated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the tree. Money was tight, and the gold wrapping paper was expensive. Nevertheless, on Christmas morning the little girl brought the gift to her father and said, "This is for you, Daddy."
He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his aggravation flared again when he found that the box was empty. "Don't you know that when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside of it?" he lectured her.
The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, "Oh, Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy."
The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged her forgiveness. My friend told me that he kept that gold box by his bed for years. Whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there. - Anonymous
I received the perfect gift last Christmas—the love of a little child.
On Christmas night, when it seemed that all of the gift-giving and festivities were over, I was tucking four-year-old Jade into bed and praying with her for the night when out of the blue she said, "Daddy, I love you more than all my toys and things!" My heart skipped a beat.
A few nights later, we were visiting relatives when I needed to check my email. I found a place to hook up to their network, but there wasn't a chair handy. No problem. This would just take a minute, I told myself as I sat on the floor and started up my laptop computer. Just then Jade came running through the room, tripped, and fell right onto the computer, sending a million colored lines across the screen.
As each person present assessed the damage, I heard comments like, "That's going to be expensive to fix!" and "Too bad it's no longer under warranty!" When Jade realized what she had done, she started crying. I picked her up and hugged her. "Don't worry, Baby," I whispered in her ear. "I love you more than all of my things!" - Gabe Rucker
© Activated Magazine. Used with permission.
Simple Joys that Warm Christmas
I was thinking about my mom on her birthday, and realized that there was something very special about my childhood—the times we spent together. More specifically, I was thinking about the Christmases when I was small. The thing that made each memory special wasn't the number or value of the gifts we received or the Christmas parties we attended. Rather, it was the simple things.
First there was the Christmas when we made an extra effort to do things together as a family, when we made a nativity scene in our living room out of an old board topped with miniature pine trees and figurines that we'd made and dressed ourselves.
The cold little house we lived in another year was warmed by a cassette tape of Christmas carols—a first for us children—and the joy of finding oranges in the stockings we had hung out, along with nuts and raisins wrapped in foil. That year we also had a Christmas tree with homemade ornaments.
Then there was the Christmas when I was smaller still. We strung popcorn and hung it on the tree. There was hardly any left by the end of December, for a little mouse, cleverly disguised as a three-year-old in pigtails, nibbled away whenever she thought no one was looking.
There was also the Christmas when I was nine, when we six girls awoke to a surprise—a line of white shoe boxes, each clearly marked with one of our names and each containing something special that we needed or could play with—skipping ropes, jacks, a hairbrush or hairclips, small clothing items, etc.
Thinking about those special occasions caused me to want to give my own children that same love, excitement, and warmth this Christmas. I want them to have happy memories to look back on. That's when I realized what it was that made those moments so special: It was my parents' love and the time they gave us, which demonstrated that love. No, we didn't have a lot, but we had the Lord and one another—and that's what made those such happy and special Christmases.
Originally published in Activated magazine. Used with permission.
The Gift of You
By Dee Ann Ludwig, adapted
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only gift is a portion of one’s self.” And that’s what these seven gifts are—gifts of you. They cost nothing, but are some of the most precious presents you can give to your children. Their effects can last a lifetime.
The Gift of Time. In our busy world, the phrase “I don’t have time to…” has become a universal complaint. Like a growing plant, any relationship between two people can thrive only if it receives care. Most human relationships profit from a simple tonic that is called “tincture of time.”
The Gift of Good Example. Children learn fundamental attitudes and behavior by observing their parents. Be a good example by handling difficult situations in a mature manner.
The Gift of Seeing the Best in Children. When we expect children to respond in a positive way, they usually do.
The Gift of Teaching. Helping a child learn something new is an important investment in their future happiness. Sharing our talents is a good way to show our love.
The Gift of Listening. Few of us know how to listen effectively. Too often we interrupt or act disinterested when someone else is talking.
The Gift of Fun. There are people who “wet blanket” the happiness of those around them, while others lead children into finding fun in ordinary events.
The Gift of Self-Esteem. It’s hard to resist the temptation to give unnecessary advice and help to those we love. Such advice may unwittingly cripple a child’s self-esteem. A Chinese proverb proclaims, “There’s nothing more blessed on earth than a mother—but there’s nothing more blessed in Heaven than a mother who knows when to let go of the hand.””
Christmas is best enjoyed when it isn't centered on decorations, gifts, or festivities, but on love. Love is the essence of Christmas. Christmas is about taking quality time with your children; it's about cherishing and celebrating the love you share.
What is Christmas?
Late one Christmas Eve I sank back into my easy chair, tired but content. The kids were in bed, the gifts were wrapped, the milk and cookies waited by the fireplace for Santa. As I admired the tree with its decorations, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing. It wasn’t long before the tiny twinkling tree lights lulled me to sleep.
I don’t know how long I slept, but all of a sudden I knew that I wasn’t alone. You can imagine my surprise when I opened my eyes and saw Santa Claus himself standing next to my Christmas tree. He was dressed all in fur from head to foot, but he was not the “jolly old elf” of Christmas legend. The man who stood before me looked sad and disappointed. And there were tears in his eyes.
“Santa, what’s wrong?” I asked. “Why are you crying?”
“It’s the children,” Santa replied sadly.
“But the children love you,” I said.
“Oh, I know they love me and the gifts I bring them,” Santa said. “But children today seem to have somehow missed out on the true spirit of Christmas. It’s not their fault. It’s just that the adults have forgotten to teach the children. Many of the adults have not even been taught themselves.”
“Teach the children what?” I asked.
Santa’s kind old face became soft, more gentle. His eyes began to shine with something more than tears. He spoke softly. “Teach the children the true meaning of Christmas. Teach them that there’s much more to Christmas than the part we can see, hear, and touch. Teach them the symbolism behind the customs and traditions of Christmas we observe. Teach them what they truly represent.”
Santa reached into his bag, pulled out a tiny Christmas tree, and set it on my mantle. “Teach them about the Christmas tree. Green is the second color of Christmas. The stately evergreen with its unchanging color represents the hope of eternal life in Jesus. Its top points heavenward as a reminder that man’s thoughts should turn heavenward as well.”
Santa reached into his bag again, pulled out a shiny star, and placed it at the top of the small tree. “The star was the heavenly sign of promise. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of the fulfillment of that promise, when Jesus Christ was born. Teach the children that God always fulfills His promises and that wise men still seek Him.”
“Red,” said Santa, “is the first color of Christmas.” He pulled forth a red ornament for the tiny tree. “Red is deep, intense, vivid. It is the symbol of God’s greatest gift. Teach the children that Christ gave His life and shed His blood for them so that they could have eternal life. When they see the color red, it should remind them of that most wonderful gift of life.”
Santa found a bell in his pack and placed it on the tree. “Just as lost sheep are guided to safety by the sound of the bell, it continues to ring today for all to be guided to the fold. Teach the children to follow the true Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep.”
Santa placed a candle on the mantle and lit it. The soft glow from its tiny flame brightened the room. “The glow of the candle represents how man can show his thanks for the gift God gave of His Son that Christmas Eve long ago. Teach the children to follow in Christ’s footsteps, to go about doing good.
“This is what is symbolized when the lights twinkle on the tree like hundreds of bright, shining candles. Each of them represents one of God’s precious children.”
Again, Santa reached into his bag and this time he brought forth a tiny red-and-white-striped candy cane. As he hung it on the tree, he spoke softly. “The candy cane is a stick of hard, white candy. The candy is in the shape of the letter ‘J’ to represent the name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior. It also represents the crook of the Good Shepherd, which He uses to reach down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen who, like sheep, have gone astray."
Santa brought out a beautiful wreath made of fresh, fragrant greenery and tied with a bright red bow. “The bow reminds us of the bond of perfection, which is love. The wreath embodies all the good things about Christmas for those with eyes to see and hearts to understand. It contains the colors of red and green and the heaven-turned needles of the evergreen. The bow tells the story of goodwill towards all, and its color reminds us again of Christ’s sacrifice. Even its shape is symbolic, representing eternity and the eternal nature of Christ’s love. It is a circle without beginning and without end. These are the things you must teach the children.”
“But where does that leave you, Santa?” I asked.
A smile broke over Santa’s face. “Why, bless you, my dear,” he laughed. “I’m only a symbol myself. I represent the spirit of family fun and the joy of giving and receiving. If the children are taught these other things, there is no danger that I’ll become more important than I should.”
I must have fallen asleep again, and when I awoke I thought, I’m beginning to understand at last. Was it all a dream? I don’t know. But I remembered Santa’s parting words: “If you don’t teach the children these things, then who will?”
- Author unknown
By Mary Roys, a parenting life coach in Southeast Asia
Each December I ask my children, Toby and Kathy, now seven and nine, to go through their toys and clothes and set aside what they have outgrown or no longer use. Then I check what they’ve selected, weeding out worn-out items and exercising my veto power in a few cases, and box up the best of the rest to give to others who have less than we do. Besides instilling in the children a spirit of giving, I have found this to also be an effective way to trim down on clutter and put “gently used” items that they no longer need or want to good use.
Last Christmas both of my children seemed more materialistic about the holiday—more focused on the presents they were hoping to receive, and less inclined toward giving. I wondered why, as well as whether or not they were aware of their change in attitude.
I decided to take an indirect approach. “What do you think is the true meaning of Christmas?”
Of course they knew that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birthday, but they stopped at that.
“On the first Christmas, did God give us only His rejects?” I asked.
“No,” Toby replied thoughtfully. “He gave us the very best He had—His most special treasure.”
“And that is the true spirit of Christmas,” I explained. “To give of our best to others, like God gave us His best to us.”
The kids thought about this for a bit and then came up with a plan to give away some of their favorite toys, rather than just the ones they were tired of. Toby chose to give some of his favorite Matchbox cars, and Kathy decided to give one of her dolls. We packed these with the rest of the items we had set aside, and I took the children with me when I dropped off our Christmas donations.
Instilling values in my children is one of my greatest responsibilities as a parent, and teaching them to think of others before themselves is a big part of that. Giving sacrificially shouldn’t be a once-a-year occurrence, of course, but Christmas is a perfect opportunity.
Originally published in Activated! magazine. Used with permission.
At Wit's End?
Through the ages, parents have shared a common bond: the great love and concern they have for their children. They want to see them learn, grow and be well cared for. They want them to be healthy, happy and successful. Yet so often, life’s problems have blocked the way or made the task of parenting more difficult. Parents have had to learn how to cope with every difficulty, both inside and outside the home, from devastating losses and hardships to breakdowns in their marriages. They had to try to find solutions to each new set of problems, and survive and help their children make it. Often in their most desperate hour of need, the darkest hour, when things seemed totally impossible, when there seemed to be no solution and no way out, many looked to Heaven for help. They looked to God for answers when they had no answers. And they were not disappointed. He was there—ready, waiting, reaching out for them with His loving arms, embracing them as their own Heavenly Father, watching, protecting, always ready to answer, always ready to help.
In these difficult times in which we live, He is still there, He is still waiting. Many parents are discovering that they, too, can take their most difficult questions directly to God. They can appeal to Heaven for answers. They can find solutions, right now. It may seem pretty “way out there,” almost ridiculous to some, but amazing things are happening! People are calling out to God and are discovering that He is close at hand and always ready to answer our questions, because of His great love for us, and His desire to see us happy.
So if you feel like you’re in the dark, weighed down by heavy burdens, and no one on earth seems to have any answers, don’t give up! There’s still hope. You, too, can get the answers to your problems straight from the halls of Heaven. Help is there. It’s available and within reach. It’s within your reach right now.
Excerpted from the book "Parenteeing", part of the "Keys to Parenting" series by Derek and Michelle Brookes. © Aurora Productions. Used with permission.
Free Children's Stories