Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”(NIV)
From the time our kids were little, my husband and I decided that we would let them determine their own path in life. We would encourage in the form of providing new activities within our budget, create positive experiences individually and as a family, and try to instill a “can-do attitude.” Ultimately, though, what they choose to pursue and to what degree they excel would be for them to decide. Whether they are passionate about athletics, music, creative arts, or something entirely different is ultimately in their hands.
As they get older, though, I fail to remember how much influence I still have on them. Even though their friends are becoming more important, they still look to my husband and me for approval and as a litmus test of sorts to gauge their progress.
Therefore, because I have been blessed to be a parent, I have to make sure I don’t grow lazy in my job of being my children’s biggest fan. Not in a superficial way that makes them think they can become whatever they want just by wishing it to happen, but with a steadfast love that stands behind them in whatever area they have chosen. It could look like driving them to various activities and staying to cheer them on instead of pointing out the few mistakes they made. It could mean staying up late for heart-to-heart talks about where God is leading them and helping them list the pros and cons to each. Or, it could mean taking the tough stance of refusing to let them quit but instead teaching them to follow through and finish what they started, at least for that season.
Regardless of how it looks for my family (or yours), the most important lesson today is to remember the power of our words. A misspoken word here or there when tired,
cranky, or stressed is easily forgiven, especially when your confidence in your children as individuals and their success, measured by their own standards, is expressed
frequently. I want to be there consistently to remind my children that perfection is not the goal, but giving their best is. I want to stress with them that they can achieve more than they think with a lot of hard work and investment in their passion. I think that is the best gift that we can give our children.
Just as we don’t expect perfection in our children, let’s not hold ourselves as parents to the unrealistic standard that we’ll always get it right 100% of the time. We should strive most of the time toward consistency in our message of, “I believe in you,” while showing our kids through steps in our own lives that we believe in ourselves as well. Our children will have an extra edge over other kids who, for whatever reason, don’t have that stream of encouragement coming from the most influential people in their lives.
As a bonus, why not look for opportunities that while building your own children up, you can pass some of that extra “can-do spirit” along to other children in need? Your own family might see your example and start looking for opportunities to pass where they can pass long encouragement as well.