In my last post, I talked about the importance of making a firm resolution to bless your children this year. If you haven’t already, you should do this – it’s never too late! Just like life, we only have so long and then, our time with them is gone forever. Of course, different seasons will come, but they’re only little (or teenagers even!) once. It doesn’t matter how old they are, you need to seize this age and make the most of it whether it’s 2 or 7 or 15.
Who looks back on life and thinks, “Gee, I wish I would have spent one more hour a day perusing my social media accounts,” or “You know, I really should have watched more cooking shows,”? Almost everyone, though (even the most devout parents) looks back on the years of parenting with some sense of longing or even regret. Now is the time to ensure that when you eventually reflect on your stewardship of your children, you do so with the least amount of regret possible.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Look, I love my children already! Why do I need a resolution?” Well, loving your children is half of the battle. The resolution is all about the way in which you will go about loving your children this year and it has everything to do with that finite resource we mentioned earlier – T-I-M-E.
We are busy – all of us. There is such a tyranny to the pace of modern life. We feel as if something disastrous will happen if we don’t keep up with this, or that, or the other. Sometimes this is true; oftentimes it’s not. It all leads to a frazzled state, which leads us to look for ways to ‘cope’. In the meantime our children are pushed further out to the fringe. I’m not saying we don’t all have important things to tend to. Just keep in mind that for every ‘yes’ you give to this pursuit or that pursuit, there is a ‘no’ given somewhere else. Too often these ‘no’s’ sound in the ears of our children.
We show our love for our Savior by keeping his commandments. Through deeds. Our love for our children is shown in precisely the same way. Here are a few recommendations when it comes to taking back (or improving upon) your time with your children.
Have a Family Meeting
Sometimes you just have to pause life, get everyone in the same room, and air everything out. I don’t mean initiate a family brawl. I mean get together and have a time of transparency. If mom is exhausted, the children should hear about it and the family should discuss ways to lighten her load. If there’s been negligence on the part of the parents or children, it should be frankly confessed and talked through. Stuff has a way of building up and putting everyone on edge. A family meeting (or multiple family meetings) can act as a reset button of sorts and help everyone start fresh.
Take Control of Your Calendar
If you don’t, everything else will. Special events and field trip opportunities are often scheduled out a year or more in advance. If you see something your family would enjoy, get it on the calendar even if it’s 8 months down the road! It might not always be possible, but the earlier you say ‘yes’ to an event, to easier it will be to say ‘no’ to the flurry of things that will try to knock it off your calendar! This goes for vacations too. Our family has been horrible about this. We only take vacations if they drop out of the sky and hit us on the head (they don’t normally do that by the way). Sit down, plan it out, and get it on your calendar – today!
Get Deliberate with your Child Training
As precious as children are, they seem to have a keen sense of when your yes means ‘yes’ and your no means ‘no,’ and that’s normally after the third yes and the fifth no (provided your voice is raised). Caroline and I made raising our children early on much more difficult by not “saying what we mean and meaning what we say.” For a while, the only correction we handed out was either yelling or standing in the corner or grounding (in that order). Most offenses didn’t justify grounding, and corner time only works so well, so we mostly just threatened (and our children called our bluff, nearly every time). What’s worse, when they were well behaved we rarely rewarded them. We were just overwhelmed. These are some of the reasons why we created Character Badges. Character Badges has really helped us to be deliberate in the way we reward good behavior and correct poor behavior. Just as well, our children love putting checks on their charts, earning badges and coins, and receiving rewards for their good efforts. It’s a win-win.
Read the Scriptures and Pray with them
EVERY DAY – This is the most important one by far. It’s truly amazing how profound an effect a routine devotion time can have upon the life of your child. What’s even more amazing is how easily we neglect this time, even though we know this! All of these recommendations are meant to work together, but this is the one that causes all the others to work like a well oiled machine. There’s no other way to say it – you must pray with and read to your children from the word of God every-single-day.
I heard an excellent quote today. It went something like this, “You can do anything you want to do. You just can’t do everything you want to do.” There’s no shortage of things to do. There are even a great many important things to do; but before you say ‘yes’ to anything else this year, be sure you say ‘yes’ to your children. You have to choose, dear parent. Choose wisely.
~Written by my husband Sean!
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