“You did such a great job playing in your piano recital, but I love you anyway.” “It was so amazing how you hung in there in that tough game, but I love you anyway.” “You got all A’s, but I love you anyway.” This is the phrase that stood out to me – BUT I LOVE YOU ANYWAY – the phrase that I still have in my mind almost a year after I heard it! The way we speak to, and interact with our children is so powerful! In a conference designed for homeschool families, some of the best information I heard was about PARENTING and I am sharing it with you today!
AVOID ACCUSATORY “YOU’S”
When we start interacting with our kiddos by saying, “YOU did such and such,” we immediately cause them to go on the defensive. Instead, start with how it made you feel. “I felt disrespected when…” or “It really when me feel sad when…” (This is great to remember in any interaction!)
AFFIRMATION IS CRUCIAL
This is an opportunity to validate or affirm your child. “I understand that you are frustrated.” “That’s a valid point; would you like to hear my opinion?” “Use your words so I know how to help you.”
By using these types of phrases, we let our children know that we are willing to listen and that they can trust us with their thoughts. We also provide them ways to articulate their feelings.
It is SO important to focus on their efforts more than their accomplishments. Make the appreciation about their character and their heart. This is where the phrase “but I love you anyway” comes in. Children need to know that we love them for them! We love their very LIFE. We love them aside from any accomplishments or failures, bad days or good days. Their choices do not change our love for them! Their value and worth is from God, and not connected to their behavior or performance. (AMEN!?!?!?!?!)
AVAILABILITY AND ATTENTION
Ready for a POWERFUL sentence?
You can’t not be available for your littles and expect them to come to you as teenagers!!! Don’t always be putting them off. “I’ll be there in a few minutes.” “Not right now, sweetie.” (I am preaching to the choir, right here! Ouch!) We need to KNOW our kiddos by spending intentional focused time with them. (Get off Facebook; stop checking your phone!) Support their passions. Make sure they get the message: YOU ARE IMPORTANT!
ALLY OR ADVERSARY
An ally responds. An adversary reacts. Let’s not make our kids into our adversaries. Rather, let them know: “I am on your team/side! I am FOR YOU!” Then, we must back up those words! It’s so easy to get aggravated with our kiddos and be kind of fighting against them. Instead, let’s be their allies!
Assume good will from your children! Assume they want to please you, that they are on YOUR team! When they do or say something wrong, don’t automatically assume they are TRYING to be naughty or rude or annoying. Assume the best and go from there. I know there have been a number of occasions when I’ve been aggravated by a kiddo not being ready on time or making a mess, and it turns out they were busy doing or making something for ME! (Which leads us to our next point…needing to apologize).
This one can be icky. Our natural inclination is not to apologize to our children, but it is such a wonderful opportunity to model humility, demonstrate a thorough apology, and teach our children about forgiveness.
An apology should include:
- I’m sorry.
- I know what I did hurt you.
- I was wrong.
- I will try to not do that again.
- Will you please forgive me?
Apologies are not just to be made by our children! It doesn’t matter that we weren’t intending to hurt or wound them; they experienced it. Our actions must match our words; we want our kiddos to see us doing the right thing. Often they need to apologize and make things right, but just as often, WE might be the ones that need to apologize. Children need to see us fail. In fact, our kiddos can learn MORE from how we handle our mistakes than from any Bible study we put them in.
Oh my goodness! So many powerful truths in that parenting seminar!!!! In conclusion, Alice Reinhardt, the seminar presenter, reminded us of the following:
Be transparent and vulnerable with our children.
Be available – start now!
Say YES as much as possible.
Never underestimate the power and influence of our voice and words to our children. Remember God’s grace. Ask God to cultivate our hearts so our words will build and encourage our children. May the words that we speak always be full of love and grace!
This is one of many excellent books I have read on the topic of parenting. I highly recommend it! If you click on the link and purchase it, I will get a few pennies. 🙂