I may be on a plane as you are reading this.
For the first time in my LIFE, I am leaving our crew for a couple of days to join other writers from around the country at a blogging conference called Allume.
So, while I’m gone I asked one of my most special online friends, Sarah, to share her heart over here. She normally welcomes readers into her home at Joy-Filled Days and I read her posts regularly because her love for God and desire to live for Him shines through clearly whenever she writes. And this is Part 2, so you may want to go back and read Part 1– Raising a Fully Thriving Child.
We all want our children to thrive, but sometimes we don’t know how to make that happen.
In order for children to thrive, they need a certain atmosphere, just like a newly planted seedling needs a warm greenhouse atmosphere in order to emerge.
I want to suggest that your home life plays a bigger role than you might realize when it comes to children thriving.
So, let’s talk “home atmosphere”, okay?
Have you ever entered a fancy restaurant or hotel and noticed that it instantly felt cozy and home-y? Your senses are all stimulated at once. Friendly smiling faces greet you, comfort lighting or glittering candles, orderly furniture and decor, wonderful aromas. If even one of these is out of whack, it seems just “blah.” All of these influence whether we want to “stay” or “go” in that establishment.
The same is very true in your home. And although things don’t need to be expensive, things should be pleasant.
What is it like to live in your home? What is it like to have you as a mom?Would your children say you are happy to be their mom, or do they some times wonder if perhaps they are more in the way and holding you back from doing what you really dream of doing? Would your husband say you are generally happy?
These are good questions to ask ourselves, because they help us meet our long term goals of raising a thriving child.
This may seem elementary especially if you came from a nurturing home, but I wanted to give you some practical ways to build an encouraging home. I hope this will help someone who is not quite sure what they are doing.
Just a word to those who came from homes where you just “survived.” Perhaps you had anything but nurturing parents, and your memories of home involve yelling, anger, fending for yourself or general discord. Some encouragement for you: it doesn’t have to define you any longer. You don’t have to repeat the past with your own kids.
You can be the history changer in your family. Your kids and grandkids will look back and thank you for giving them a happy childhood and “normal” memories. But old habits die hard, and we all need to pray for grace on the days when things get hard.
In an Encouraging Home:
1. The parents foster an atmosphere of acceptance and love.
When a child feels safe, they open up. A child should experience love, fairness and set boundaries in a home. They should know that boundaries are just that; and they should be lovingly and consistently upheld.
When boundaries are broken, the message should be that there are consequences for foolish choices, yes, but that love between child/parent will always continue.
2. The parent never dangles acceptance or love over a child. Never give your child the silent treatment or cold shoulder. That is not loving interaction between family members but rather manipulation and abuse of power.Treat your children with love and respect.
3. We treat even meager attempts with applause.
Your child’s first piano song, a scribble of an artwork masterpiece, clay pieces that are shaped into creatures that are only identifiable by your son–these all should garner an ooh and ahh’s from mom and dad. When your child shares something with you, they are opening up their hearts to you. If you shrug them off, or act as though you are too busy, they might get the message that you are indifferent to them as well as to their little creative attempts. They may not choose to come to you next time.
4. We pursue a joyful attitude.
“If momma ain’t happy, then nobody’s happy!”–this adage is so true! Your demeanor affects everyone. If you are in a tizzy, your children will be, too.
If you are calm, happy and peaceful, the home will be a much more inviting place to be.
Purpose to be positive, cheerful, thankful and hopeful. Thank God for each day, each meal, each experience with your children. If you can’t seem to remember to do this, post reminders around the house for yourself: “In everything give thanks” “For this child I have prayed” “Rejoice evermore.”
5. We handle disagreements with grace.
Disagreements should be handled respectfully, with no yelling, threatenings or hurtful words. If you model this for your children, they’ll follow suit. Conversely, if you and your spouse are always bickering and negative to each other, they will learn that.
6. We strive for cleanliness and order.
Nobody can think in a mess. Nobody wants to think in a mess. Piles of papers, stacks of books, scraps of papers and crayons strewn about might be okay during actual school hours while work is taking place, but order must reign at the close of the school day. Corral your clutter, because your home is a home, first and foremost, not a school room.
7. We encourage conversation at the dinner table.
The impact and influence of your dinner table conversation should not be underestimated. You are not just here to eat, but to discuss life. Around your dinner table, children learn acceptable manners, hear talk of politics, religion, philosophy. Family stories are shared.
Children should be encouraged to listen and interact as you practice hospitality in your home. So much can be learned while listening to the life experience of the elderly, traveling missionaries, family members and church friends. Here, children listen and interact with parents and guests.
8. We teach by example. Children imitate what they see.
The best way to teach your children gracious, generous life skills is to just live them out before them.
A mother who takes time to sit and have tea with a neighbor, bake a cake for a shut in, write a thank you letter for small thoughtful deeds is setting a great example for children.
A consistent lifestyle of kindness, care and consideration are what we strive for in our home.
9. We live out our faith in everyday life.
What you say about God and His Word matters. What you do with it matters even more. If you tell your kids that God says we should love, but then you live as though God had never spoken, you are exposing to your kids what you really believe. Conversely, when your kids see you turning the other cheek, loving the unlovely and sacrificing your wants for the needs of another person, this makes a huge impact on them.
10. Love Reigns.
It is easy to say the words I love you, but harder to live a loving life. Love never thinks evil, so we assume the best about each other. Love is not impatient, so we wait for each other patiently. Love does not boast or brag, so we speak with humility. Love does not cause trouble and stir up strife, so we seek to be peacemakers.
How about you? What do you think makes a fully thriving child? What do you do in your home to foster an atmosphere that encourages thriving?