If someone asked you if you loved your child, would you say ,”Yes!” or would it be more like, “Ummm, I suppose so.”? Maybe it is easier for you to love one child more than another? I think most of us would say we love our children dearly and would give our lives for them. But maybe a better question is, “Do you like your child?”. Some of you may still be giving me an enthusiastic, “Yes!” while others it may be the sound of *crickets* we hear. After three children, I feel some experience with different personalities, but not as much as some of you out there! 😉 I have found over the 6 years I have had children that certain children make it much easier to enjoy their company than others and that sometimes there are phases your children (or you!) go through that can make them harder to like. What do you do when you find you are harboring resentment or less than loving feelings toward your child or even just how to grow closer to that one child that tends to be distant? Does the Scripture have anything to say about how we feel about our children?
Tit 2:4 Tit 2:3 The aged women likewise, that they be… teachers of good things;
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children…
Now if loving our children were always easy we would not need someone to teach us how to do it would we? Sometimes it can be downright difficult to love our children. Often times we do not have older women to teach us these things or we ignore the good counsel of the older women around us. When I see other women behaving much more patiently with my children than I do, I am usually convicted or encouraged. (convicted if I haven’t been so hot at showing love lately or encouraged if I just needed a little reminder to be extra kind 🙂 ) Listen to and watch those older women as they work with children or tell of their own experiences. I didn’t have much support with my oldest and I really needed it, so take it when you can get it! Ask for help- something I made the mistake of not doing. It may be rest if your child is very active, a listening ear, or advice from a trusted source. Those older ladies have been there. They understand it is not easy being a Mom!
So what have I learned in my short time as a Mom about really loving my children?
Number one. You can’t change who they are! If they like wearing camo and blowing up bridges in their sandbox let them! If they like to read instead of playing football, let them! Are your girls girly, but you haven’t cracked open nail polish since you were eight? Break down, get some polish and help them put it on the best you can. 🙂
Pro 31:26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
Number two. Look at yourself. Do you dislike your children because they are disobedient and naughty? Look at how you are training them. Have you been neglecting to teach them things like patience, consideration, helpfulness or a host of other traits that make people pleasant to be around. Are you disciplining in anger? I think all of us at one time or another (or many times…) got wrapped up in less important things and failed our job of child trainer. Don’t blame them for your neglect in this area! If this is the case, pray for strength to be the Mom you ought to be and do your job!
Pro_22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Pro_13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
Number three. Spend time doing fun things with your children. This can be work, play, or doing something THEY enjoy. If I excitedly call out, “Who wants to help Mommy???” I often get more help than I really want. 😉 Make them feel needed by letting them help you bake, hold the dust pan, wash the dishes or plant your garden. If it is one specific child you are struggling in your relationship with take them aside for some alone time. Take them somewhere they enjoy- out for ice cream, to the museum, movies, etc.- and let them do most of the talking. You might learn something and your relationship will blossom when they know Mom cares. Nurture your child.
Deu 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (we should be spending time with our children – not ignoring them! Anytime is a good time to teach them about the Lord!)
Number four. Don’t take everything personally. Children often just act. They don’t know WHY they are doing something, they just do it. Look at things objectively. Maybe they are not getting enough rest, not enough time with Mom or Dad, you haven’t been consistent in your discipline of them, or even a poor diet/food allergies can cause difficult behavior! Do your best to help them and not just assume they are going of their way to be obnoxious. Make sure YOUR behavior is not offensive to them.
Pro_18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.
Number five. Find out how they like to be loved. Some children may be feeling unloved because people feel love in different ways. Some feel loved when they spend time together, give/receive gifts, show/receive affection, with acts of service, or with kind words. Find out how your child feels loved and you may find that they were acting out or distant because they didn’t feel you cared! For more info on this you might want to check out the Five Love Languages.
Pro_10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
It can be painful to look at ourselves and our motives with our children. It is never easy to make changes for the better, but it will be well worth it in the end. Pray for your children, pray for the love, discipline, patience, and grace you will need to train them and that they will need in life. Show them you love them!