Friday, October 4, 2013

GUEST BLOG: Defining Our Children

I asked a friend who works as a counselor to many families and their children if she would be willing to write a blog.  She regularly reads this blog as she has tons of nephews and nieces who she prays for often.  So I figure with her aunt-status and counseling background she has a unique perspective with wise insights into how we can better pray for the children in our lives.  May we receive encouragement and wisdom from her praying heart!
Guest Blog Written By: Anna Oparah, M.Ed., LPCC

Phil 4:8

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

We all love the little kiddos that are in our lives. When you really think about your child, you are overcome with love. Does your child really feel it? Really know it? Or do they feel like a screw up most of the time because of how you talk to them? "You’re room is ALWAYS so messy", "You’re backpack is SO disorganized!", "You lied AGAIN!", "You’re in the way".

I am a counselor with a private practice and have the privilege of knowing the ins and outs of many parents, families, kids, and adults (who are really just grown up kids!). With my exposure to so many lives, I often see trends. One trend I see is the power and influence parents have when they speak about and to their children. I can see that words of critique and disappointment sink far into a child’s soul and even influence who they are as adults. It isn’t just my clients; I see this in my friends as well.
I will give you an example. I walk up to a friend who has her daughter with her and I say, "She is just so sweet!" and the Mom answers back with, "Oh, she’s a handful!", or "She may look like an angel- but let me tell ya, she’s a little monster!". Some of you might be thinking, "Oh I never do that!" but let me ask you, are you always aware of the little ears that might be hearing your phone conversations?
I know that it is healthy to have a support network of friends, family, and other moms to discuss the trials that come with parenthood, but PLEASE don’t have these conversations in front of your kids! If they are in the house while you are on the phone, they have most likely heard you talking about what a "problem" they were that day. This sinks in and finds a place in their identity without them even realizing it. "I am a problem" gets placed within their little minds and hearts. Not only this, but for some kids, this gives them permission to BE a problem. "Hmm, I am a trouble maker, I will make more trouble!"

Proverbs 18:21a

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue."

Words are powerful! Maybe the most powerful gift God has given us as parents. God’s words created the whole universe!!! And we are created in God’s image. Our words have amazing power as well! What words are we giving life to? Words of disappointment or words of encouragement? Words of critique or words of guidance?

When your child lies, try to address the lie in a way that encourages him to be honest, not in a way that makes him feel like a lying failure. You can do this by speaking truth into his character, "You are an honest boy, so I am surprised you lied. I know you will work on this and tell the truth next time". Rather than, "You are such a liar. You know I will find out, why do you have such a problem with lying? Don’t lie anymore!". This is just one example, but do you get the idea?
You can speak life into the characteristics you want your kids to develop! When your kids are listening to you while you are on the phone say stuff like, "She was such a helper today!", "I am so proud of him", "My kids are so much fun!", or "They really listen and obey well". Try to address their mistakes by separating the behavior from their character. "Pushing your sister was a mean action, but you aren’t a mean boy", or "You chose not to listen today, but you are a good listener". The idea is to help your kids see that they may make mistakes, but they are not a mistake. They may mess up, but they aren’t mess ups.

Ephesians 4:29
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

Not only do you want your child to grow up with a secure identity, but you also want to give them an example of speaking uplifting words to others. Kids mimic all the time. Do you want them to copy your negative focus? Or a really positive focus? Do you want them to point other people’s success or do you want them to point out other people’s mistakes? As parents, keeping a careful guard on our tongues will not only help encourage our kids- but it will help our kids become encouragers too!
Let's pray!

Lord, as parents we won’t always be at the top of our game, please guard my child’s heart and mind from my careless and sometimes unkind words. Help give me the self-control, grace, and wisdom I need in order to be more positive and more purposeful with my words towards my child. Help my child to soak in my encouragement, praise, instruction, and guidance. And help my child to become an encourager, a person that lifts other’s spirits with Your love. Thank you, Lord, for how deeply you love us. Amen.

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