How to Really Honour Your Child (Part 1)

As a parent, I know I have made so many mistakes in my parenting journey. But in the process, I know I have also grown in the way I parent my children. One night, as I was reflecting on how I can be a better parent, I wrote out 10 principles which I believe to be essential towards helping my kids become the persons God intended for them to be:

Our two sons modelling for our Sensory Superhero Series. Both boys are such creative individuals who love fun and uninhibited play. Our heart is for them to become the persons God meant for them to be! 

1) Recognise that every child is a gift from God. Love them for who they are not what they are.
2) Treasure every moment with them, both big and small. Surprise them with fun experiences and build memories that last a lifetime.
3) Treat every child equally. You may love them in different ways due to their different love languages, but at the end each child must know you love them with all of your heart.
4) Recognise that every child has his own strengths and weaknesses. Build on his strengths, and guide him to manage his weaknesses.
5) Love their mum. It's the most important way you can express your love for them.
6) Do not hide how much you love them. Let them know you will always love them and be there for them.
7) Discipline with love. Respect their choices. Guide them, but recognise that they are their own persons.
8) Teach them to differentiate between right and wrong. When we impart values to them we provide a compass that will direct them for their entire life.
9) Say sorry when you are wrong. Humility is the mark of a great man.
10) As believers, the greatest thing we can do for our kids is to gift them Jesus. He will be there for them during the times we can’t.

Each child is a unique individual who is loved by us and by God!

1) Recognise that every child is a gift from God. Love them for who they are not what they are.

We honour our children by recognising that they were given to us by God. As parents, we are often guilty of loving our children because of how they behave or how well they do in their studies. And this seems to be appropriate, given the demands of society and how we feel a need to measure up to what is expected of us and of them. This results in a conditional type of love which is transactional in nature, and children learn quickly that they need to conform to a certain pattern before will you demonstrate your love for them. 

But our God is not like that. He is the God of the agape; the God who loves unconditionally. We honour our children by loving them unconditionally; to the best of our ability this side of eternity. As such, we recognise that our children are a blessing in terms of who they are; and that we need to love them not in terms of their accomplishments or physical characteristics, but as persons in their entirety. 

"'Campfire's burning, campfire's burning. Draw nearer, draw nearer." Making magic from the mundane.

2) Treasure every moment with them, both big and small. Surprise them with fun experiences and build memories that last a lifetime.

It is hard to imagine that a period like now can be one that will be treasured by our children. However, if we consider the amount of time we now have with them because we are working from home and because they are engaged in home-based learning, this period will be a defining time in the lives of our children. The difference is how they will remember this period.

So we need to create a bank of happy and fun memories for our children. Celebrate each moment, both big and small. For instance, you can order in a special ice cream surprise for no other significant reason; or you can set up a “campfire” at night, with the table lamp on the floor and everyone seated around singing campfire songs and telling Bible stories.  

Memories form the core of our children’s life experiences. We embarked on an epic 40-day road trip to the US the year before, and our kids still talk about what their experiences fondly. In fact my older son is setting aside all his allowance so that he can go back for another trip there. And although it’s been almost a year since we returned home, my son is still describing the events that took place in America as if they had happened just yesterday. 

We will always remember our precious time in America the year before; and many fond memories were created during our epic trip! This photo was taken on Blowing Rock in North Carolina, and the kids had lots of fun climbing the picturesque rocks there.

3) Treat every child equally. You may love them in different ways due to their different love languages, but at the end each child must know you love them with all of your heart.

We have two kids. The older, Z, is a "chatterbox" at age 10. He is an excellent narrator and can describe every instance in graphic detail, using powerful descriptive words to capture the essence of each moment. He also has a deep love of playing board games, and would be undeterred whenever we play, demonstrating strong focus and concentration skills when he plays games. Our younger, E, is an animal enthusiast at age 8. He would fuss over his newest pets, his hamsters, all day long; feeding them, replacing their water and changing their bedding among other duties. 

Both kids need to know that I love them; and while I love them both very much, I need to love them in a language that they understand. As such, I choose to spend many mornings and evenings playing board games with Z. And I choose to listen to him intently whenever he tells me a story, or if he chooses to narrate what had happened to him in the day. For instance there are times when I would sit with him 1-1 for a good half an hour without talking, just playing a game of Blokus or Hey That’s My Fish!. And he would give me a big smile after we finish the game, which would indicate to me that he is happy and satisfied. As for E, he is thrilled when I give him attention over his hamsters. He has been asking me to “learn how to carry the hamsters”, and is particularly thrilled whenever I spend time with him and play with the creatures together with him. 

At the end of the day, what you do is important; insofar as it is something that your child enjoys. And to know what each child likes is the fundamental responsibility of a parent; we learn about and know who they are, in order for us to love them for who they are.

Making time for board games with the older son. Z is depicted here playing Secret Door, one of our favourite games; an excellent cooperative game sold in our online store.
Our little naturalist "showing off" Harry the Hamster. E has been very responsible in related to the care of the hamsters and the rest of his pets.

4) Recognise that every child has his own strengths and weaknesses. Build on his strengths, and guide him to manage his weaknesses.

As a teacher, I remember giving out report books where I had to write comments about my students and their progress in class. We would then meet the parents to share what we had written in the report books. I remember one particular parent who came to me during one of the sessions. “Mr Lim,” she said. “Are you sure about everything you wrote in the report book? You’re the only teacher who wrote good things about my son.”

I believe there is good in every child. Yes, each of us has many areas that we can improve in. But if we constantly focus on our weaknesses and neglect our strengths, this would be especially harmful for our self esteem; especially if we are a child and everyone around bombards us with negative words. If we instead choose to focus on the strengths of our children and not their weaknesses, this would do wonders to their sense of self as well as their self-confidence. 

Focusing on strengths does not mean ignoring weaknesses. Instead we are to continually affirm our children by complimenting them when they do well. But if they falter, we address the issue directly and provide them with suggestions on how to improve. For instance, we are now embarking on a system of chores for our children. When one of them fails to water the plants or wash the dishes, we do not scold them or fault them for not doing their chores. Instead we simply state what needs to be done, and ask them to carry out the task at the earliest possible time; and this before they are allowed any of their daily rewards such as screen time or movie time. 

Our older son Z loves to play soccer. So we focus on what he is good in and sign him up for soccer class where he gets to dominate the field with his nifty dribbling and goal kicks.

Our younger son E loves the rough and tumble of jiu-jitsu. So we sign him up for a class that not only teaches him self defence, but is also something he is good in.
5) Love their mum. It's the most important way you can express your love for them.

My wife and I are into fostering. We have also worked with young people for more than 20 years. In our various encounters with youths from different segments of society, we have heard many stories of parents who are locked into loveless marriages. Some of these parents have told their children that they are only living because of them; and that once the youths complete their studies and find a job, that they would say goodbye to their spouses. 

In the fostering sector this is also especially true, and we have heard of cases of marital infidelity and spousal abuse, which has led to broken families where children being removed from their birth families and placed in foster care. It is heartbreaking whenever we hear of a new child being sent to foster care. For behind every foster placement there is a sad story of either a case of child neglect or abuse. And if you were to dig deeper, you would find root causes of addiction, trauma or marital strife. 

How to really honour your child? Love your spouse. When your children see how much you love your spouse, they will internalise this and replicate it with the person they choose to marry. In essence you serve as a role model for your child to follow. Moreover, by loving your spouse, you establish a firm foundation on which the marriage and family is built. Children need stability in their lives, and nothing is more stable for them than to see their father loving their mother, and vice versa. A stable environment provides the basis for our kids to develop and grow in a holistic manner. They then grow up to become secure individuals with a clear purpose and a meaningful destination in life.

This photo was taken by our older son Z during our US trip in 2018. It's a visual reminder that our children are always watching us and when we choose to love our spouse, they will also internal this and replicate it in their marriages.

This is an article in 2 parts, with the second part discussing Principles 6 to 10. It is intended to be one of my chapters in an upcoming book on honour.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it definitely requires patience. Also, you need to empathize with your kids and go easy on them and yourself as well. Let it go. They are kids. It takes time for everything to fall in place!
    You need to take a look at this website. It talks about life as a parent.

    ReplyDelete

Powered by Blogger.