Monday, June 6, 2016

Tying Strings ~ Chapter Four

Emily, my son's wife, and Cassi, my youngest daughter, and their husbands were out here for a week recently for a baby shower I gave for Emily and Cassi. They are both having daughters and will deliver in a month or two. The night after the shower, Ken and I had a large BBQ with our whole family. Alyssa and Jon, Erin and Ryan, and my parents all came over, along with my three grandchildren. We always have such a wonderful time together! There is no arguing or conflict, just talking and laughing. There is a mystical bond between caring members of a loving family...It is as if we were joined by many strings of mutual love, respect, honor, and memory of all the good times we've had together.*

Unfortunately, I cut the strings with my oldest daughter when she was younger. As she was growing up and was going through the difficult teenage years of insecurity, instead of drawing her to me through affection and love, I pushed her away from me by being upset often with her. "The period from twelve to sixteen years of age is extremely critical in the formation of character, particularly with regard to daughters...During this important period a mother cannot be too watchful. As much as possible, she should keep a daughter under her own eye; and above all things, she should encourage entire confidence towards herself. This can be done by a ready sympathy with youthful feelings, and by avoiding all unnecessary restraint and harshness...A judicious parent is always better beloved, and more respected, than a foolishly indulgent one. The real secret is for a mother never to sanction the slightest error, or imprudence, but at the same time to keep her heart warm and fresh-ready to sympathize with all the innocent gaiety and enthusiasm of youth...The vices and temptations of the world have little danger for those who can recollect beloved parents and a happy home" {Lydia Maria Child}.

I apologized when she was older and explained to her that I was the one that should have been pursuing and encouraging her. She would often try to explain the distance between us by saying, "It's okay, Mom. It's not your fault. It was my problem." However, as I have studied and learned more, I have learned that no, it was my fault since I was her mother and the one that should have been pouring into her life goodness and gentleness. Thankfully, she never rebelled against the Lord and we have a close relationship now.

How does a parent break those strings? By being harsh, mean, argumentative, distant, cold, aloof, upset, and/or  not affectionate with their children. These qualities will never bind a family together or make relationships strong. If you have disciplined a child properly when they were young and they know you love them deeply, as they grow older, you can have a wonderful relationship with them. If you have not disciplined your children and you grow to almost despise your children because of their disrespect towards you, you have cut the strings and it is most likely, your fault for not disciplining them when they were very young to obey you and drawing them to you with cheerfulness and affection.

However, it is never too late to restore broken strings. Begin by showering love and warmth upon your children. This is what I decided to do with my oldest. Instead of trying to get her to act or treat me a certain way, I decided I was going to win her with kindness and it worked. People will almost always respond to kindness. Even when I am out and about, I will strike up friendly conversations with whoever is helping me out in a store. I enjoy talking with people and finding out about them. If you have an easy time being kind to strangers but can't with your own children, you need to reexamine your behavior. God commands that we love others as we love ourselves. Love your children deeply, consistently, and show them affection with joyfulness. 

Mend those broken strings. If they haven't broken and you have small children, begin tying those strings together from a young age by disciplining them properly, having family dinners, playing games together, laughing together, and loving each other. Then, when your children are all grown up and married having babies, when you all get together, it will be one big happy family enjoying the string that binds them all together by love, commitment, respect, value, and kindness. 

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, 
because love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8

*Quotes in the book.