In Colossians 3:21 we read, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” At every turn, "society" loudly proclaims that your child needs some product or service. Not only that, the subtle and often not so subtle message is: good parents buy the latest _____________ for their children. Parents who don’t, well, they just aren’t offering their children the best. But what do our kids really need? What our children really need are simple gifts. Unfortunately, the word "simple" is deceiving, for "simple" gifts are not always easy to give, and often come only with focused consideration. Take the time to review a few of these simple gifts. How many of us have given them to our children?
LIMITLESS LOVE: The gift of limitless love can only be given according to the model Jesus provided. Loving our kids should never be about trying to ensure their love for us. It shouldn’t be tied to their behavior. It should be about generously offered affection. It should say "No" when necessary. It should forgive seventy times seven.
DAILY DISCIPLINE: In Ephesians 6:4 we read, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The gift of discipline is two-fold. The first part requires providing consistent boundaries that have immediate consequences when crossed. The earlier boundaries are set, and the more consistently the consequences are carried out, will determine the lasting value of this gift. The second part of the gift of discipline is about instilling self-discipline within your children. Teach them to finish what they start. Teach them that work comes before play. Teach them to discipline both their mind and body.
EVERYDAY ENCOURAGEMENT: Midst the flurry of daily activity, it is common to look back and not see one moment with our kids that included encouragement. Sure, we threatened them to finish their homework. We ordered them to clean their rooms. But encouragement sustains. It edifies. Remember to offer encouragement separately from instruction. Here are a few examples to prime the pump:
"You are great with numbers. I know you can figure out those math problems."
"Wow! You brushed your hair all by yourself. You did a great job!"
"I noticed you sharing with your brother. Way to go!"
“I saw you reading your Bible this morning in devotions, great to see that.”
APPROPRIATE ATTENTION: Some parents unintentionally ignore their children, but attention is a gift they crave. Try these pointers:
Stop working when your child wants your attention.
Make eye contact as you converse and listen to what they are saying.
Reduce attention distractions (TV, cell phones, iPods, laptops, blackberries, etc.).
MODEL FOR MARRIAGE: One of the most important simple gifts you can give is a godly model for marriage. Sure, you can preach with words. You can show evidence in Scripture. But it is your relationship with your spouse that will provide a pattern your sons and daughters will likely follow as adults. Here are three biblical concepts to convey with your actions.
Dad is the spiritual head of the house.
Mom is priceless and deserves respect and tender consideration.
Mom and Dad are a team. That means your children shouldn’t be able to play you against one another.
The next time you feel pressured to spend elaborately on your child, remember the simple gifts. There are so many to choose from, and these gifts will never be used up, discarded, or returned.
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