I am very blessed to have people in my life who have encouraged me. Their support has been invaluable. I learned early on that a kind word goes a very long way. Now that I am a parent to a three year old who wants to try something new every day, I am reminded that encouragement is essential to the nurturing and personal growth of an individual. Children need to feel as though they can accomplish anything. As a parent it is our job to make them feel safe and to instill confidence in them. They need to know that our belief in them is unwavering. As easy as it is to build up someone up it is just as easy to tear them down, even if it is unintentional.
For example, a daughter excitedly tells her mother she wants to be an actress. Her mother proceeds to tell her that acting is unrealistic, that she will not make money at it, and she should focus on another field of study. The mom may be trying to save her daughter from the disappointment that comes with the rejection in this profession. However, she is actually chipping away at her self-confidence and self esteem. If her own mother doesn’t believe in her why would anyone else. She may give up on her dream and worse it may deter her from going after any other dreams she may have. Just as a kind word can go a long way, words of discouragement go further.
Jesus always encouraged His disciples, and because of this his disciples had the strength and confidence to fulfill their purpose. They spread the teaching of Jesus because he laid the groundwork for them to be confident. As Christian parents we should model the behavior of Jesus and encourage our children to pursue their interests.
Since becoming a single mom, I have had to rely on many words of encouragement to get through some difficult times. This past Christmas I was reminded of the gift of encouragement. I had bought a beautiful six foot tall Christmas tree. I had carried it in my home alone and when it was time to discard it I had to also do that by myself. A six foot tree is heavy to say the least! When Christmas was over, Anya watched as I struggled taking it out, she began yelling, “You can do it mommy, you can do it! We never give up.” With her little voice booming, I mustered all my strength and managed to drag the tree out of the house.
Afterwards, we celebrated with hot chocolate. She will never know how much her belief that I could do it meant to me. It dawned on me the many times I have given her a high five for a job well done, gave her hugs and kisses, and told her to never give up when she was unable to do something. I realized that she internalized it and understood how important it was to cheer someone on when they needed it. The gift was passed back to me by my three year old!
Encourage your kids whenever you can. If your children are trying something new, show them your enthusiasm, even if you have doubts. You should voice your concerns if you have any, but you can do this while giving them the encouragement they need. If they are doubtful or fearful, pray with them about their fears, and let them know that you believe in them. If they fail at something it is important that you don’t let them dwell in their failure. Acknowledge their disappointment , but remind them they are not a failure.
Often times we are quick to point out what our children are doing wrong, but why not point out all of the things they are doing right? Tell them that you appreciate them for all of the good qualities they have. You will be surprised at how effective this is. Children can push your buttons, and it is easy to loose patience, but instead of spitting out words of anger, why not encourage them to do better. Express your disapproval of their behavior and administer the appropriate consequences, but make them aware that you know they can do better.
Encouragement is the gift that keeps giving. Be a parent who uplifts, and sends out positive messages to your children. If they see that you don’t underestimate them then they won’t underestimate themselves. Encouragement entices them to face challenges and take risks. It allows them to blossom into a self assured and loving person who knows their intrinsic self worth.
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