When my four children were toddlers, I scored big with a large trash bag full of Beanie Babies. While they brought so much joy and fun, it often ended with tears. I began watching them interact. The girls would line up their favorites, giving them great affection. Hudson would have his in a big pile and would grab one making it pounce on each and every one the girls had so perfectly lined up. They would cry. Beanie Babies were put on the shelf for a while because this same scene always played out. I began to realize that neither party did something ‘wrong’, but that boys and girls play differently. It was not about finding out who was the offending party but teaching them how to interact with their differences. By God’s design, girls and boys are different, play differently, and respond differently. I have told the kids countless times that, yep, it might not be easy to figure out how to interact with a brother/sister but that it was their training ground for future relationships, their spouses, future children, etc. Someone doesn’t have to be ‘wrong’ in order for God to teach us through their differences.
BOYS AND GIRLS
One day, Emma came to me all upset about something her brother did. I could tell she needed some help working it out, so I called Hudson to join us. The first question I asked him was, “Do you know why you are here?” and he immediately said, “Yeah, I am going to get disciplined.” He was making my job very easy! So, I asked him for what, and he said, “Being a boy!” Hmm. Apparently, he was taking his bow and arrow and shooting it in the living room, where the girls were watching a movie. I had to explain to Emma that he wasn’t doing anything wrong – that boys are like that and that it was just his way of playing. However, I then needed to explain to Hudson that while he did not do anything wrong, he failed to see WHY shooting a bow and arrow around the girls was upsetting to them. It made Emma feel threatened and unsafe to have the arrows whizzing by. It is so important, especially as children get older, that they don’t just see the rules but the heart behind them. The arrow was not the issue; Emma’s heart was. I want my children to be sensitive to the hearts around them, even if it means laying down what is fun and okay for them.
The other day Ellie came to me and said, “I know I am loved, but I am just not feeling it today.” The following day I felt led to lavish on her through her language of love. She thanked me, and I told her, “I did not do that to love you. I did it to REMIND you that you are already loved.” As a busy parent, it is easy to feel pressure with the love languages as if it means our children are not loved or are lacking something essential if we don’t fill their tanks daily. The truth is they are ALREADY loved, and speaking their language stirs up what is already there. Take the pressure off yourself of ‘having to’ give your child what they need and view the love languages as a privilege to stir up, call forth and remind them of what was theirs all along.
Ask your children this question and privately share their replies with him. “Hey, kids, what is the one thing you want most from your dad?” Then have him ask the kids about you.
My heart is heavy for the parents facing hard things with their children. I want to encourage you with the following: #1. ANGER – Be mad, let it out, and process those emotions. Scream in a pillow, journal, beat the sandbag, go for a hike, vent to a friend – whatever you have to do to GET THOSE EMOTIONS OUT! You cannot afford to carry the weight of those emotions with you. Get them out so you can let them go. #2. GRIEF – Many of you are grieving. Grieving for your family, your child’s heart, the plans for the year, and your ability to juggle it all. This is real and must be acknowledged. Grab your journal and begin, “God, I am so sad that…” #3. HOPE – It is hard to be anchored in hope if you carry around a lump in your throat, are ready to explode, or feel like a victim. Processing your emotions and heart will help you move into HOPE. Hope is anchored in THE truth, not the facts our circumstances scream at us. Declare the TRUTH! God has not left you. You have what it takes to not only survive but thrive. You will know what to do (because He lives inside of you).
God has keys and strategies for your situation. He works all things out for good, He sees your world, and He cares. He has a solution – ask Him! It is going to be okay. Your child is going to be okay. YOU are going to be okay!
When was the last time family members used harsh tones, unkind words, or sent messages of disapproval? When was the last time family members gathered to call out the good, honorable, and kind things in each other? In a family, we will find the flesh, but we can cultivate the spirit by intentionally creating space to speak life and declare truth over each other. Gather and answer the following questions over each person.
What am I really good at?
What do you love most about me?
How have I helped you lately?
What do I add to the family?
How do you see Jesus in me?
Make up your own!
How would your childhood have been different if you would have had a parent who consistently called out the good in you? BE THAT KIND OF PARENT TO YOUR CHILDREN TODAY!
I was completely engaged in worship one Sunday morning when I heard the Lord say, “I like hip hop.” It was so out of the blue. I heard it again and was like, “Okay. That’s great.” When I heard it a third time, the revelation came. I was raised in a good ole Lutheran church, and in my home, you wouldn’t be caught dead going to church in anything other than your Sunday best which included black patent leather shoes. I had come a long way, but I still had a deeply ingrained belief about what clothing did and did not look appropriate for church. My daughter had slipped her bright pink sneakers on without me noticing until we got to church, and I had scolded her, saying they weren’t appropriate church shoes. I had to humbly repent of partnering with the religious spirit because apparently Jesus likes hip hop and thinks bright pink shoes are just fine in His house!
My spiritual daughter shared how God is leading her family in this season.
“A new thing our family has started doing is asking, ‘Do you need a 20-second hug?’ And teaching them how to ask for one. A 20-second hug can… increase levels of oxytocin (the love hormone), reduce blood pressure and cortisol (the stress hormone), increase happiness, lower stress, improve relationships, and connection.”
My friend Amber shared: “Holy Spirit gave me insight into my three kids and showed me that sometimes there’s a disconnect with my oldest because I am judging her. He showed me how her new school overwhelms her, how she feels like I’m not listening to her, and that one of her love languages is acts of service, so the ‘bossiness’ and constantly asking for this or that is her way of connecting.”
Someone gave Hudson a can of pop (or soda, as some of you say), and his sister commented how lucky he was. The next day he used his own money to get her one and put it on her bed with a note. It touched me deeply because, in all honesty, this isn’t his normal expression. A few days later, I inquired with him what motivated him to be so gracious and kind. He said, “Oh, she wanted to spend time with me the other day.” I have said it before, and I will say it again. TEACHING CHILDREN THEIR SIBLINGS LOVE LANGUAGES MATTERS. Siblings get their sense of belonging from each other, and when their tank is full, they naturally pour out love.