Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Delighting in our children March 30, 2009

Filed under: For moms,Parenting,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 12:19 am

This week was difficult with my 3 /12-yr old son.  More than just misbehaving, he was borderline malicious, seemingly looking for ways to antagonize our dog or his sister or to defy me.  None of my efforts – talking about the incidents, praying with him, consistent discipline – appeared to be making any difference. 

Finally, at the end of the week and after praying it through, I decided to try making some changes from my end.  I spent a day focusing on him, talking casually with him as much as possible, including him in everything I did, making time to play with him however he wanted.  And it worked – it seemed to break the logjam and alter the dynamics of his behavior and our negative weeklong dance. My concentrated attention, affirmation, and love had reached him in a way nothing else had.

A friend of mine shared similar thoughts.  “Sometimes when one of my children becomes ornery and ventures into disobedience, I’ve found it helpful to take a step back and assess the situation, see where the child is, and respond in love and one-on-one attention. Sometimes all they need from me to ‘shape up’ was some one-on-one time and cuddling.  Obviously I wouldn’t do this in the middle of a defiant stand-off, but if I’m trying to figure out where the behavior is coming from and I can cut it off at the pass by using love when needed, I’ll try that. It can even be more of a diversion strategy before things really heat up, and it often works.”

At the end of my experimental “focus on my son” day, I made an interesting discovery.  My heart had changed toward him and I loved and appreciated him more for who he was.  It got me thinking about the nature of love, particularly the notion of delight.  The bustle and grind of daily life can sometimes cause me to lose focus on my kids – their individuality, their hearts, the things they enjoy.  I can be less than attentive as we go through the motions of our routine – we can co-exist a bit.  To “delight” means to “take pleasure; to enjoy.”  This is how God regards us – he “takes great delight in” us, “quieting us with his love” and “rejoicing over” us with singing (Zeph 3:17).  God’s delight in us reaches our hearts and changes us, causing us to want to be close to him and please him.  And our relationship with our kids can work in the same way – we can sow delight and reap closeness and love.

Delighting in my children – as a way of life – only happens when I’m intentional and when I make time for it.  If I’m hunched over my computer or sending them off to play so I can get chores done, I’ll delight in them rarely or never.  In The Mission of Motherhood, Sally Clarkson writes: “Choosing to be a servant-mother means willingly giving up myself, my expectations, and my time to the task of mothering – and choosing to believe that doing so is the best use of my time at that moment.”  We delight in our children as we lay down our lives for them in small moments and love them fully and wholly.  Delight and grace work together hand in hand, and this post from Making Home describing grace toward our children as “generosity, kindness, and surprises” speaks volumes to me about delighting in our kids and the importance of prioritizing this in our homes.

Bottom line: I’m adding an expanded love for my kids and a priority of delighting in them into my prayers about parenting…

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5 Responses to “Delighting in our children”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Thank you for writing this! It’s a great reminder. I just realized that this must be why he was a bit ornery today. I can relate to everything you wrote. There have been occasions where I’ve thought, “Maybe he’s acting out b/c he just wants my attention… my undivided attention,” and everytime I stop what I’m doing and get down on the ground with him and wrestle or play trains, he LOVES it and I notice we have a lot less problems during the day and he responds a lot more quickly to my commands. He also smiles more and has a better attitude overall. So, this blog was a good reminder and now I know how to start off our day tomorrow… with some wrestling, a book and a train! I realize I need to be more intentional on a DAILY basis to spend special time with him each day. Thank you!

  2. Michelle Says:

    For those of you reading the comments, “he” refers to my son William who is 2. I forgot that other people besides Susan read the comments.

  3. Margaret Says:

    We have struggled to delight in our almost 4-yo too. I think it’s the age. :/ But certainly I have a tendency to want to avoid him when he’s that way, instead of looking for the delightful things about him.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog, btw. 🙂

  4. woowoomama Says:

    reading this post made me think of a book i read that speaks to a lot of what you are writing about. it is called “hold on to your children” and it is written from an attachment parenting perspective, by a therapist and parent, talking about how most “behavior issues” are rooted in a loss of connection or attachment between children and parents. i could go on and on about the book because it is full of helpful insight but one thing i really liked about it was the hint to re-establish connection when you feel like there is a behavior issue. not that this is a cure all but that it is always helpful. i have found, when i can remember to do this, it is incredibly helpful. the author encourages you to work for a real connection (a good sign is eye contact and a smile) before trying to work on anything else.

  5. Megan Says:

    Susan,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Yes, we do have several things in common. Our son is due Aug. 5th and he is our first child. We are so excited. And while I have already made an investment into cloth diapers, I’m now getting a little anxious about it! I guess because some close friends visited with their 6 mo. son and said “I’ll be curious to hear how you like it when teething and sickness occur…” That got me kinda discouraged…have you CD-ed with all your kids so far?

    Loving your blog…I have so many questions regarding child-rearing and discipline. Hopefully your insights will help!


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