Raising children with love is essential

Joan Clayton: Religion Columnist

This time of year is “bittersweet” for me. I see “Back to School” reminders everywhere. I feel a “tinge” of fall in the air and I remember those first days of school with little first graders. They had “new situation anxiety in the worst way.”  That school looked mighty big in their eyes. One little boy cried most of the first day, becoming happier near dismissal time. I gave him a goodbye hug.  “Will you please not cry tomorrow?” He thought a minute, smiled and said, “Maybe!”

A career of teaching little ones brought many blessings and I still miss them.

Children have within them the secret of life…unconditional love, forgiveness and complete trust. I learned a lot about the wonderful world of children.

Many factors determine a child’s success in life. Chief among these is love.  A child who is genuinely loved can soar to amazing heights. I’ve read many stories of successful people whose parents or parent instilled into their offspring right from wrong.

They believed in their sons or daughters and never gave up. The cheerleading section became the child’s security.

We receive valuable advice in Deuteronomy 11:19-20 about children:  “Teach them well to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on your doors and gates so that both you and your children will live a long time in the land the LORD promised your ancestors, as long as the skies are above the earth” (NCV).

The support and love of a strong family builds successful children, not only in school, but also eventually in life. Withholding love is the cruelest form of punishment. The biggest robber of self-esteem in children is love based upon performance.

Spending quality time with children means much more than material things. “Things” will never replace the love and quality time of a parent.

Being interested in and involved in your child’s school activities gives reinforcement for him or her. Keeping good communication with your child’s teacher lays groundwork for cooperation. Volunteering to help with field trips, parties and other activities helps so much. Sending needed materials for class projects are always appreciated.

I still have notes from parents in my “Treasure Book.”  Sometimes they came after a long hard day, restoring my enthusiasm for teaching.  Receiving a note of appreciation from a parent makes a teacher’s day.

Praise does wonders for people, especially in children. Praise your child for efforts, improvement and even small things. Criticism is devastating to a struggling child. Let your child know you are on his/her team and that you are there, whatever the need. Make it safe to communicate without fear or reprisal. Understand first, rather than to be understood. See the world through your child’s eyes, listening without interrupting. It’s okay to disagree, but it is never okay to disrespect the child.

Children are human beings. Ask their opinion. They need to know they are important and their opinion counts. Deal in the present. If an offense arises, deal with it and be done with it.

Bringing up all the wrong things the child has done before is counterproductive. Concentrate on building up your children’s strengths by finding things they do well and support them in it.

In reality, you are partners with the teacher in building success for your child and nothing should stand in the way of that.

Keep communication open with your child. Promoting health and healing in that most wonderful person in the world,” your child,” is the main objective.  We need strong families to be a strong nation.

Finally, pray together. No other single activity will have as profound an effect on your child’s life. Pray with your child for his or her teacher and classmates.  Pray for safety on the playground, on the busses and in the schools.

May we all remember our leaders of tomorrow are the children of today.
“Children are a gift from the LORD,,,”  (Psalm 127:3 NCV).