Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Autumn Hope Check

Hope is the most powerful force we can nurture in our children. It is one of the deepest needs a human has: the need for hope. Without hope comes hopelessness - a terrible state of being. What do kids hope for? Small things like "someday I might have that special toy" and medium things like "I have hope that I am smart enough to do my schoolwork" and big things like "I have hope that my parents cherish me."

Periodically I try to do a "Hope Check" for each of my kids. Am I nurturing hope in their lives? Or am I contributing to a sense of hopelessness in their soul? As a parent I am either doing one or the other. I have yet to be convinced that this is an area in which a parent can be neutral.

Without Further Adue, here is my Hope Check
Drake, 1.5 years old, tries with all his might to communicate, but it is a struggle for him to be heard and understood. I can nurture hope in Drake by taking extra time with him, saying aloud what i think he is communicating; mimicking his great enthusiasm, frustration, or other driving emotion.
Pray: that he would use his mouth to one day proclaim the gospel from the mountaintops!

Weston, 3.5 years old, often finds himself creating strife with Drake. Drake is hard to play with and has become quite good at provoking Weston. While Drake is in this phase of life, being difficult to play with, I can nurture hope in Weston by taking his side, even when he did have some blame in a sibling conflict with Drake. I can be quick to come to his rescue, and I can be careful to not leave Drake unattended with Weston. I can be quick to praise him for little strides toward kindness, generosity and maturity.
Pray: that the Lord would cause him to be a gifted peacemaker.

Jackson, 6 years old, lives in a good place right now. His love tank is full of soccer and PE. He loves school. He loves playing with each of his brothers. In this season of great hope I can nurture our relationship. I can use this quiet season to deepen our bond by being patient as he explains his world to me (I usually don't catch it on the first telling), and look him in the eyes more, and smile at him more, and kiss him more. What great hope that will bring to both of us as we see our mother-son relationship deepen!
Pray: that he would grow in his relationship with his Heavenly Parent.

Davis, age 9, has brought homework home - and tears to go along with it. His perfectionistic tendancies drag him down as he struggles to make sure every single letter in cursive is just right. He searches for perfect word after perfect word in writing a fiction story. He quickly panics when spelling lists feel too challenging. He is sad when homework assignments prevent him from joining in playtime with his brothers. I have been nurturing hope in his little heart by encouraging him to NOT write every cursive letter so carefully, and talking about how its OKAY to miss a spelling word. No one is looking for perfect... I can also breath hope into him right now by helping him to gain perspective on school life: that the work load won't always feel overwhelming.
 Pray: that Davis would experience God's grace on his life at an early age.