A friend of mine says that we are imperfect people trying to raise perfect kids.
When I get hung up on the imperfections that I see in myself and in my children, it helps to commit those areas of weakness to prayer.
An attribute I like to pray for in my children is kindness (thoughtfulness arising from love). It’s simply not enough for me to tell my children that they have to be nice or that they have to share. They need to see what that actually looks like in everyday life.
Each morning on the way to school, when we pray for our day, I illustrate examples so my children can hear ways of how they can give in their own school community and we talk about their ideas. I will pray that they would have an awareness of others and look for situations where they can help another classmate with a project he is struggling with, let someone from behind go ahead of them in line, pick up something that someone else dropped, keep a child company who is playing alone and/or ask the teacher, “what can I do to help?” I can pray for more than a willingness to serve but a true desire to want to–even if it means they have to sacrifice their own needs for someone else’s. Helping doesn’t have to be a chore or a feelingless act but can bring genuine joy to the giver. There are loads of opportunities to do so, and sometimes our kids just need scenarios described so they can recognize the possibilities in their own world. Of course, volunteering and serving is another powerful way to model kindness.
A guided prayer on this trait comes from the book, While They Were Sleeping, by Anne Arkins and Gary Harrell:
“Father, may _________ be willing to give of himself to help a person in need. May _________ not only see the needs of others but act upon those needs in a sacrificial way. Deliver ___________ from holding too tightly to his own possessions. Give him a willingness to share with others the resources he has.”
So the next time you see a trait or tendency that may need further development, try committing it to prayer and see what God does. He may just bring forth loads of opportunities to practice and “perfect” the very thing you’d like to see take root in your child.
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16)
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers…Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
“He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.” (Proverbs 14:21)