The five-year-old gets up from his nap and is given a job to do. He is slow and grumbles. He wanders off from the job several times, and a ten-minute job takes nearly thirty. Do you notice?
I’m sure you do. It’s a general truth: we all notice when people aren’t doing what we think they should. We fuss, or give consequences, or give up entirely on the project of teaching our children to work.
Then we get together with other moms, and we grumble about how our houses are always untidy and how hard it is to get the children to do anything, let alone take initiative or work with a good attitude! How discouraging it all is.
But some days:
The five-year-old gets up from his nap and starts emptying the dishwasher without being asked. He has a happy attitude, and a ten-minute job takes only eight! Do you notice?
If you notice, do you let him know you noticed, with as much energy as you let him know you noticed the dawdling?
I know I notice, but often I just take it for granted, or pat myself on the back. (Finally! I’m getting good at this parenting thing!) Often, though, I fail at letting the children know that I’ve noticed, and I go to my moms’ group and grumble rather than rejoice.
We need to stop. We need to notice the good—even more than the bad or childish—and we need to speak of it.
For one thing, focusing on naughtiness and childishness reinforces in our children a habit of their thinking of themselves as naughty and childish, which makes it easier for them to choose naughty and childish reactions and behaviors.
For another, as Christian moms we are called to rejoice—even in affliction, like a perpetual pile of laundry!—and to encourage each other. We can’t do that when all we see and all we bring to the conversation is discouragement and disappointment.
Finally, we need to notice our children’s “good works” because we are forming their understanding of a good and gracious God who notices the good His children do. (“I was hungry and ye gave me to eat, I was thirsty and ye gave me to drink”…..Matt 25:35) They will understand their Heavenly Father’s approval and encouragement through how we encourage and approve of them.
It’s a tall order! And it is so, SO hard to remember when someone is dawdling their way through a routine job again, or we are struggling to hold things together through a fog of nighttime feeding fatigue. We must seek grace to notice, grace to encourage…and pray, too, for our children to receive the grace to choose to do right and be encouraged.
This post was originally published on the Home Educators Association of Virginia blog and is used with permission.