Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Extending Grace & Mercy to our Children

Today I would like to talk about extending grace and mercy to our children. As Christian women, we know that showing grace and mercy should be something we extend to all. But I believe there are certain ways that we can forget this, without meaning to, with our own children.

Let me try to explain. As mothers we are called to "train up" our children. We know how important it is for them to learn any number of skills that will serve them well later in life. And at times there seems to be so many things that we need to teach them that it can become overwhelming if we do not keep our perspective.

It is during these time that I believe we can "forget" to extend grace and mercy to them.

Is it important that they learn how to keep their room or area tidy? Yes. Does this mean that we never go in with them and help out? Fluffing a pillow here, hanging up a shirt there? No. Do they need to learn how to do basic things like make a sandwich or pour their own drink? Yes. Does this mean that after they have mastered these things that we never more do it for them? No.

I'll give you an example from my real life. My daughter is older than my son and so there have been times when she has become frustrated that he receives more help with certain things that she. I've always explained to her that when she was his age she received the same treatment. That she is older and therefore more capable. One thing we would have this discussion over was the making of their beds. She was to the point she could do it herself, but my son still basically needed me to do most of it with him helping as he could.

She came to me one day with the why-does-he-get-lots-of-help-making-the-bed conversation. I explained it all to her again. She understood but I noticed as she turned to walk away, such a slump in her shoulders. Did she possess the skills to make her bed? Yes. But did I think she was in need of a bit of extra grace and mercy being extended to her that day? Yes, I believed she did.

I quietly sent both children to the living room. Then I made both of their beds. After that I took two small pieces of paper. On the first for my son I wrote ~ I (picture)heart U. (He couldn't read at the time, but I knew he would be able to make that out.) Then I wrote in a pretty cursive for my daughter ~ I Love You.~~ And I laid the notes on their beds.

I went my way and didn't say a word. In a little while, both children headed back toward their rooms. My daughter was actually going in to make her bed. My son's room was the closest so she saw him go in and look at his made bed and she saw his note. Bless her heart, those little shoulders slumped even lower! Poor baby. But then she walked into her own room, saw her own bed and her own note. Her eyes lit up and she was happy and she felt loved. She still has that little note tucked away in a "safe place." It was a small thing, but it meant so much to her.

Could I have just sent her to her room with the command of "Get that bed made?" Of course I could have. But instead I chose to extend an extra dose of grace and mercy. And it gave her a smile and made her day. Was there any harm done to her bed making skills because I did it for her? No, not at all. I am quite certain she will be an adult who knows exactly how to make beds, lol.

Do you see what I mean? Sometimes in our earnest attempt to help our children become one day self sufficient we can also become harsh. We should always be on guard for this. Let them have happy, sweet childhoods while learning and mastering their skills.

I would also like to share a little about writing notes to our children. It only takes a moment, but they can be lifetime keepsakes. I started this years ago. My daughter and I were going through a particularly stressful time between us. My heart was heavy as was hers. I decided to write to her. She was young but an advanced reader so I knew she could read whatever I wrote. I sat down and simply started making a list. I don't remember all of it, but a few things were...

~ I really appreciate the way you've been going into the living room and opening the curtains in the morning. I know you may think that I don't notice things like that, but I do.

~ You've been washing your own hair in the mornings. This saves me time and it means a lot to me that you can do it and you are doing it on your own.

I just tried to find the little things that she was doing and let her know that I was noticing and that I appreciated it all. I laid it on her bed and left it for her to find. I saw her lying on her bed on her tummy reading it that night. It broke the ice and helped us to both feel better about each other and get through that difficult phase. She still has that note.

Forget not to show them grace. To show them mercy. To be the ~mother~

I hope you are each blessed as you spend your days blessing those you love.~~~~~


Anonymous said...

I so agree! What a great post. Fun, loving memories of mom are better than bitter memories of perceived favortism. It would even be fun to help the older child and make the chore a bonding time.

As a Christian I am thankful that God is patient and gracious with me when I mess up time and time again. That same grace needs to be extended to others.

HisBeloved said...

Thank you! What a beautiful reminder of another aspect of what being a mother is all about. You have inspired me to start writing notes to my daughter now, even thought she can't read them. :D

God bless you!

Susan said...

I came to your blog by Cherish the Home, and wanted you to know how much I've enjoyed it. I just had the time this evening to sit down and look through your archives. You have a beautiful writing style,and such a way of inspiring me to press on in my job as wife and mother.

On the topic of this post, I'll never forget the day my mother-in-law reminded me that God is not only a God of justice, but He is also a God of mercy and compassion. It's hard sometimes to balance the mercy and training, especially when we're in the midst of little ones who need lots of both! I do think that part of the reason we have so many children from Christian homes rejecting the faith of their parents is because we focused on the training so much that we didn't leave room for the mercy. My husband and I have tried to keep the balance, and as our children are now in their teens, we see that we have their hearts and they are joyfully serving the Lord with us instead of trying to get away from Him and us. Thanks for a great article!