Sunday, January 2, 2011
I am constantly on the look out for "parent techniques" that we can put into place in our family. Or, perhaps I am on the lookout for children that I would like for my children to be like. When I do spot things I like, I then observe what the parents did to encourage that behavior.
For example, a good friend of ours is a mom to 6 children--ranging in ages from around 4 to 15. We were so impressed when we visited their church, because during the prayer ministry time--all of those children went to the front to minister in prayer to whoever came forward with a need. It was so inspiring to see their hearts of genuine love and ministry towards their friends.
Of course, that was obviously encouraged and modeled by momma. Lesson taken to heart.
Some other friends of ours are missionaries in an orphanage on the west coast of Mexico. Their kids are all around 16 and older. What I love about their kids is each of them is completely themselves and encouraged to develop whatever dreams or personalities lies within them. Mom and Dad are pretty traditional, but I noticed the children to be each unique.... and happy. Perhaps they weren't just like mom and dad, perhaps their hair wasn't brushed and their clothing is scruffy--but let me tell you: Those kids love people. They are genuine, stable and easy to be around. They respect and they are happy to interact.
Lesson taken to heart.
Another family, life-long friends of mine, model parenting that is very formative in the early years, and then gives freedom for making choices during adolescence. So often, I would see one of my teenage friends sitting on the couch with mom or dad and hashing out a pending decision with them. The parents' input was usually very minimal, with questions like, "Well, do you think the Bible has anything to say about that?" "What would be pros and cons?" "What affect/consequences might come from choosing to do or not do this?" My friends would sometimes groan--saying that often they just wished mom or dad would say, "Do this"... but, even while saying this, they know why their parents are only guiding decision-making and not dictating it: So they can experience the results of their own choices.
I love that lesson.
I have also been realizing how family traditions are really the soil from which fond family memories spring. Even though when our kids are little we may be feeling like we are just barely keeping hold of our sanity... we must realize that little daily things often are what will later grow into the strong tree of family unity and solidarity.
I remember that my mom would read to us kids almost every lunch time. We reverenced, loved and protected that time. We would do whatever we could to cajole her into reading to us as we ate, and then promise angelic behavior if she'd just read one more chapter. I have no doubt that this decision of hers is pretty much responsible for the avid readers that most of us are.
So, Rey and I wonder: What traditions do we want to establish in our family? Obviously, Aleni and Noah are still pretty young to really "get into" the idea of traditions, but we want to start now, so that it will be something we've "always done".
Really, the idea of "What traditions" for us is better answered by first answering "What kind of people do I want our children to become?"
I want my kids to love God and to really know His love for them. I want them to have a vibrant relationship with Him.
I want my kids to really know how to love people.
I want my kids to be responsible, hard-working and honest.
I want my kids to feel good about who they are and to have the freedom to try out their wings... To step into some of their dreams. To make mistakes, trip and fall, knowing that they won't be judged or mocked.
I want to care more about what is going on on the inside of each of my kids, more than what I see on the outside.
That means we have to model these things. Have these things springing up from our own hearts.
One tradition Rey and I have settled on is one we'd like to do at the end of each year. While many kids are throwing tantrums about not getting the right Barbie or motorized Jeep... we would like for our kids to dig deep and look around at people that might not be getting anything.
We would like them, maybe starting in November, to be on the look-out for someone they can "sponsor". Be it a child, adult or family. Be it taking them a card they made, cookies they helped decorate or a toy... We would like them to decide "who" and "what"--and help to make it happen.
We are really excited to see how this plays out in the years to come!
This year, of course, Rey and I "picked". Rey found a needy family in our neighborhood, and we took them over a meal and some bags of candy one night.
The family lived in a low, rectangular building made of rough, gray cement. The building had maybe 8 single rooms that people rent (kind of like an old motel idea). The doors are metal and the windows are holes cut out of the wall. The woman we "sponsored" had taped a plastic bag across her window.
We could see a candle flickering through it. Hmm. No electricity. Let me tell you, it has been getting cold at nights here-- maybe 25-30 degrees cold. Immediately, I felt bad for the children to be sleeping in the cold that way.
The door opened, and the woman stepped out, a small single room almost completely filled by a bed and a table behind her. Her 3 children, aged maybe 7 through 11 came out also... dressed for sleeping but with the "just scrubbed" look.
As Rey told the woman why were were there, her eyes filled with tears as she thanked us and told us that she is a single mom with no job. Yes, the food would help a lot.
Aleni, Noah, Rey and I stood there in a semi-circle under the stars and laid hands on the family, praying God's blessing and light over them.
We hope to continue developing this relationship--but, one thing I know. This is a good tradition.