My daughter hates having her hair brushed. As I run the bristles through her tangled tresses, she cringes and cries out at every tug. Then she’ll whip around and hug me tightly as I finish.
This has always struck me poignantly. Here I am, causing her pain, and she wants comfort from me. When I think about it, it is not really me causing her pain, but the knots in her hair that require smoothing and untangling.
I am reminded of our Christian life. When the Lord is smoothing out rough edges of our personalities, it hurts. But we must turn and cling to Him to get through it, even though it may seem that He is the one causing our pain. We will feel better if we hold on tightly to Him and bask in His comfort and sympathy.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16
Lately, I have been reading Seasons of a Mother’s Heart, by Sally Clarkson, in preparation for a book discussion night with my homeschool group. Something I read yesterday really struck me: “It is so easy for me, as a parent, to become overly concerned with every jot and tittle of my children’s behavior. I can spend so much time correcting them and teaching them rules that I forget the real goal of my instruction- to win their hearts for the Lord.”
She explains that a close relationship with your child, built by sympathy, compassion, and unconditional love is foundational in your purpose to reach your child’s heart for Christ. Our relationship with our Savior is built on these very things. God had mercy and compassion on us and in His incredible and completely unconditional love, He sent His only Son to die in our place, that we might have eternal life with Him. Jesus had sympathy on the people He encountered while He was on earth and He relates to us with sympathy even still. So we should reflect these attitudes as we raise these precious children that He has entrusted to us.
Three Ways to Develop a Close Relationship with Your Child:
1. Discover, accept, and embrace each child’s unique personality. This means that I must study my children to learn what their personality is. How I relate to each of my children should be different, based on who they are and what they need. My standards- based on Biblical principles,- are the same for the whole family. But how it plays out is different in each child.
I am still learning about my children- but I am inspired to keep studying them, keep spending time with them to see how I can validate and appreciate each unique individual God has given me to raise.
2. Enter into their interests and spend time doing something they like to do.
For my daughter, this means games, tea parties, baking cookies, and playing princess. For my oldest son, this means playing video games, doing mazes he has made and drawing ones for him to complete, playing tag and games he makes up, and watching his ‘shows,’ for my toddler, this means reading books and doing puzzles with him.
3. In difficult times- when they are sad or in need of correction, instruction, or discipline, I can validate their feelings, express understanding and sympathy for their struggles and use God’s Word, rather than my own, with gentleness for any rebuke.
Whenever I am upset- whether I am in the right or the wrong- I always need my husband to at least see the validity of my feelings. He needs to express that he understands why I would feel this way. If he does this for me, it is so much easier to work through my feelings. So I can see the wisdom in doing the same for my children. I can express understanding for their frustration or anger or sadness, and in this way, hopefully, soften their hearts to hear God’s Word on the matter.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14
I pray that I do nothing to hinder my children from coming to Christ, but rather in my weak and imperfect way, usher them into His presence, where there is abundant life and joy and love.