Welcome to Day 5 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers.
My heart is to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom. Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him. Take a minute to be alone with God and let Him meet you here as you fill up your heart with His goodness.
Today’s Parenting Pointer
I Can Do It!
To dovetail on the past two days’ post, I am discussing the third of our children’s basic emotional needs today: the need to feel confident. Confidence is the feeling inside our hearts that we can do things and do them well. It is different than pride because it doesn’t over-esteem or cause a person to think they are better than others. Confidence has a quiet surety and allows our child to try new things and enter new situations without anxiety.
There are things we can do as parents to build confidence in our children and things we can do to hinder them feeling good about themselves and their abilities.
When we criticize our children or set unrealistic expectations on them, they can easily feel defeated and get the message that no matter what they do, they can’t succeed. Children raised in an atmosphere of criticism can become withdrawn and unwilling to try later in life. On the other hand, they can become the type of child that grasps at a sense of mastery by controlling others. They compensate for their inner feelings of incompetence by trying to gain power inappropriately.
Another confidence killer is comparison. Growing up in my home, my parents didn’t think through the way they categorized us as children. Comments were made about my sister, “She’s the artist” or “She’s the athletic one.” As I got older, I had some talent for art, but I would never say “I’m an artist,” because my confidence in that area had been shot down by comparison. I ran cross-country races and even two half-marathons in my college years, but I never saw myself as an athlete. Instead I was the smart one, the one with empathy, and the leader by definition of my family. The evil twin of comparison is favoritism. In my childhood home my parents would say things like, “You are like your mom, that’s why you are Daddy’s girl” or “We’ve always been at loggerheads because we are so alike, that’s why your sister is my favorite.” This kind of statement stirred up feelings of competition between me and my sister and didn’t boost either of our sense of confidence.
We can build confidence in our children by letting them try new things that challenge them, but are achievable. We can value their input and their individuality. We can allow them to have a say in family decisions. We can praise their efforts, not just the outcome of their efforts. We can build them up instead of tearing them down. When children are raised in homes where their abilities are drawn out and they feel they can master tasks, they go on to try even more challenging things in the future. The sky is the limit for a child who feels confident.
Give Me Shelter
Life can throw us some curve balls. We can feel torn down and shaken by circumstances and even more so by the treatment of people around us. When I lived in the Midwest as a girl, storms could come out of nowhere and they weren’t sprinkles, they were downpours. As soon as the first drop hit, we knew to run for shelter. All us kids would high-tail it to the nearest porch to get in from the rain. From there we could watch the storm in all its fury and glory without being touched by a drop.
God promises us this same kind of shelter. In Psalm 91:1 He says:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
We can find safety from life’s storms when we run in under the shelter of the Most High. This verse holds out an even greater invitation. We are invited to dwell – to abide. It is one thing to use a porch as a place of refuge from the storm and quite another to sit on that same porch for hours, taking in the surroundings, playing a game of cards and sharing secret thoughts while sipping lemonade or sweet tea. That is abiding. Though God is willing to be our shelter from the storm, His invitation is for us to cozy up on the porch and hang out.
This past week my friend and I were doing a Bible Study together and we were led to Psalm 16. Can you take a minute to read it now? So much goodness is promised to us in this Psalm – joy, pleasant boundaries, guidance, shelter.
What struck me most as I read this Psalm and meditated on it during my Bible Study was the last verse:
You make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
As you mother your children today, remember that God will make known to you the path of life. He will guide you because He is with you. You can find joy in the midst of your day because you are in His presence. He will shelter you from the storm if you run to Him – but even more – He will give you a place on the porch to hang out and experience life with Him.
I pray you found a breath of fresh air here and a moment to reflect and recharge your battery. If you have missed any of this series, all the posts can be found here. Come back any or every day this month to get another Parenting Pointer and Mommy Refresher. And, as always, I do love hearing from you. Let me know how I can pray for you or if something I wrote here touched you.
porch swing photo courtesy of hangingporchbeds.com