Saturday, January 2, 2010

day two: "chisel" the exterior to reveal a beautiful work of art

The Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo was once asked what he saw when he approached a large slab of marble. The artist responded, "I see a beautiful form trapped inside, and it is simply my responsibility to take my mallet and chisel and chip away until the figure is set free."

As parents, we can see the beauty and potential within our children long before they ever believe in what lies within them. Our children often go through stages in which they do not feel lovely, talented, successful, inspired, worthwhile, intelligent, skilled, etc. It is up to us as parents to see what is hidden deep within them--and to help that emerge by chiseling away at the exterior, the hard, sometimes-cold, "rock" that is hiding all of those outstanding qualities and talents that only we as their parents can see.

In all of our older children's lives, Ray and I have had to be the "sculptor" at various points. I can remember specifically a time that our now-talented, capable, responsible, creative, and servant-minded twenty-two year old felt that she was not as able, smart, and accomplished as her two older siblings. I remember lying in bed, fretting about how to help her become all that God had for her.

Not long after, we began chiseling with more vigor--allowing her opportunities to take sign language classes, attend more advanced piano lessons, experiment with various crafts, work with different people groups in ministry, speak in various settings,etc. We encouraged--and we chiseled.

In no time, it seemed, Cami was thriving--and realized that she was emerging as a true work of art. Now she is the director of a large disability ministry, married to a godly man whom she partners with in serving "the least of these," and uses all of those skills that we saw within her and helped her develop--artistic design, piano, public speaking, organization, sign language, ministry, and much more.

What chiseling does your child need? Do you need to work on this "sculpture" even more than you have been? Do you need to look more deeply within the hard cement at what God has for your child? Do you need smoother tools? Truly, our children are works of art from God--and we are His hands on this earth to help them--and others--see the beauty within them.

Friday, January 1, 2010

day one: change yourself before expecting change in your children

         Every parent I know has a list (either literally or mentally) of things that he or she would like to see changed in their children. We want our children to be more obedient, kinder, more responsible, more helpful, etc. While having goals for our children’s character training is a good thing, we often overlook the fact that many of the things that we want to see changed in our children are things that we, the parents, should change in our own lives first.

The first day of a new year is a good time to examine ourselves—to see if we as parents have expectations of our children that we are not willing to change within us.  A good time to focus on our own character, morals, and relationship skills—knowing that as we change ourselves, we are more able to help our children develop into the kinds of people God intends for them to be.

This first day of this year is a good day to start this blog with a poem that I wrote twelve years ago that summarizes this—the year that I learned that “my children learn what they live” and that “it all starts with me.”                              

                                         I Looked Into the Eyes of My Children

 I looked into the eyes of my children, surprised by what I     did see,
For I thought I’d see the face of Jesus, staring back at me.
But then when I observed their hearts, what I saw was a big  surprise.
For instead, I saw me—their mother—reflected in their eyes.

All that I wish I wasn’t, all that I’d like to change,
Was reflected right there in their eyes, in many different  ways.
All the things I wanted them to change, all the things I  disliked the    most,
Were merely reflections of me—things I should have already  known.

 I cried to the Lord, “Forgive me, for pressuring them, you  see,
To be things that I am not willing—or even able—to be.”
When I heard an older one say, in a very selfish tone, “
I’ll give you my best toy, if you’ll only leave me alone.”

I saw manipulation take place and knew where it was  learned,
For I, too, can be the very same way, the conniving way I  spurned.
When I saw one of them want the best, I thought, “What  a selfish child,”
Then saw myself being selfish in just a very short while.

When I heard one of them talk angrily,
I couldn’t believe my  ears,
Until a few minutes later, my own angry voice did I hear.
I saw one of them putting frivolities before the things of the  Lord,
And then saw me with my magazines, instead of God’s holy  Word.

Day after day, God showed me, my children learn what they  live,
And before I can help them to change, I must be willing to  give—
Yes, give up the things that hold me from being what God  wants me to be—
And willing to be an example—of Jesus—for my children to  see.

Now when I see poor character reflected in my children’s  eyes,
I look into the mirror, for it’s no longer such a surprise.
Instead of asking them to change, I ask God to work in me,
 Day by day, changes in them take place—and Christ I am able to see. 

Copyright 1998

Welcome to Positive Parenting 3*6*5

Welcome to Positive Parenting 3*6*5! During the year 2010, PP 365 will provide you with daily positive parenting tips—tips for parenting children from birth through young adult. Tips for developing positive relationships with your teens, raising children whom others love to be around, developing family unity, creating family memories, instilling character, parenting cheerful toddlers and preschoolers, building a love for learning and strong study skills, tying heart strings forever, teaching children to know and love God, and much more.

Our tips will be quick—mostly ideas that you can read and take with you within a few minutes of perusing our blog. They will run the gamut of parenting areas and child ages—so visit often to see what pertains to your stage of being Mom and/or Dad. And don’t forget to leave comments! We would love to have feedback--and other readers will likely benefit from your experiences as well.

We wish you happy, godly, fun, character-filled, rewarding parenting in 2010. We parents have been entrusted with the most challenging, yet most potentially joyful, task in the world.  We encourage you to dig in and parent positively and with purpose in this coming year.

Parenting Positively,
Ray and Donna Reish