By Ann Elliott
I covered about 5 ways to say `I love you’ to your child in the first part of this article. I talked about telling them the rules are for their safely. There is another category of rules we have to enforce for our children, and those fall under training for the future.
As adults we can see some outline for our child’s future that they can’t even guess at. What it will be like for them to have to get a job, and keep it. What it will be like for them to build new family relationships and maintain those for a lifetime. What it might be like for them to follow their dreams, and what kind of perseverance and sacrifice it will take to succeed.
So much of our parenting is preparation for something our children can’t imagine. In some measure like God, we have a bigger picture.
How can we give our children a vision for that future, and what they need to prepare? How can we say `I love you’ when they can’t understand what we’re trying to help them achieve? What can we say when they question our decisions? And they will, from the time they can say `mine’, to the time we say `No, you can’t take my car.’
Family values, work ethics, their relationship with God, character, those are all qualities we try to give our children through example and discipline.
The best way to `I love you’ when our children are questioning our judgment is to simply say it; `It’s because I love you, and my job is to prepare you for your future.’ You can give an example, `You’ll have to deal with this same type of problem when…’ you’re working, you’re pressured by your friends, you’re married. We can say, `I want you to succeed, and you will need these skills.’ We can even admit `There may be other ways of doing this, but this is the way I know.’ Or `There may be better ways of doing this, but this is the best I can do.’ Giving our children the complement of telling the truth and respecting their ability to reason will always be a way of saying `I love you.’
And our example in how we deal with our own lives will always speak as loud than our words.
Ann Elliott is the author and illustrator of the Christian children’s book series GypsyBridge Friends, and the Christian parenting newsletter GypsyBridge News.