Monday, November 7, 2011

"A Few Words to the Public"

At my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meetings, they always start the day with a devotion. Last year the leader mostly used two books, both of which I really liked and asked for the titles to purchase for myself. "Hold You, Mommy" is my personal favorite and that is where this post comes from. I'm not going to post the entire devotion but simply the "guts" of it. It speaks to the power of words that are spoken to our children (although, really for anyone in our lives) in public.

"A Few Words to the Public"

    I sat waiting as my tires were being rotated, when a grandfather walked in with his adorable little grandson who looked to be about four years old. With his buzz haircut and big eyes, the little boy looked practically irresistible. The owner of the tire shop noticed the little guy too and said, "That's a good-looking boy you've got there." I listened for the grandpa's response. My wide-eyed smile fell when he sarcastically commented, "Oh, he's trouble!"
    How do you respond to that? The owner ran his hand over the little fella's stubby hair in comfort. My heart hurt for the boy. I thought about the great opportunity that this grandfather had been given to publicly build this little boy up, and he missed it.
   Have you done that? I have. It's easy to do. Sometimes we're so frustrated with our kids that when someone says they are well behaved, we want them to know the truth: "You should see them at home!" Or if someone says, "They look like so much fun," it's tempting to reply, "You wanna take 'em home with you?"
   A mom shared with us that when answering the phone, her husband always greets the caller with, "Trevor and Parker's proud father." Isn't that great? That dad is taking every opportunity to build his little guys up "in public" where his kids can hear. I'm sure they'll always remember that! Fred Hartley, Jr., author of "parenting at it's best", said, "The only thing better than personally receiving a sincere compliment is publicly  receiving a sincere compliment."
   One grandma told us, "What you say about your child in front of someone else is what they'll remember." Laurie and I, along with our brother, know that she's right. We remember our dad introducing each of us to strangers as his "right'-hand man."
   We didn't mind him calling us that. I was so excited that he was glad to be with me that I cherished the title of "right-hand man." After his words of public praise, I wholeheartedly helped him in any way I could.
   God modeled this public approval for His son as well. After Jesus was baptized, "A voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased' " (Matthew 3:17). Jesus had the blessing of His father, complete with a public declaration of approval.
   Our kids need that approval from us too. The next time you have the chance to publicly compliment your kids, don't miss it! What you say about your kids in front of someone is what they'll remember.

"Hold You, Mommy" by Laurie Lovejoy Hilliard &Sharon Lovejoy Autry

   After reading this devotion I realized that I am too honest about my family. It is an easy trap to fall into because when children are born they have no idea for quite some time what you are saying. When one of my babies would be a month old and people ask how things are going, I can picture that I would admit "good but exhausting." This can continue on until they are four and one day I realize that I just admitted to someone that they are a handful right in front of them.

   My son is and always has been an awesome sharer. I have really noticed lately that when I tell this to someone in front of him he has the biggest smile on his face. He then proceeds to go above and beyond and start offering his treats and toys with others just to show how well he really does share. At the same time, if I tell someone that he can be a challenge, why would I expect him to not proceed to prove me right. This reminds me of something I read many years ago. A woman was saying how much her husband always spoke highly of her when talking to others, she went on to list the qualities that he would praise and she thought to herself "I had better figure out how to become all those things before he realized that they were not all true!" It made me think of how much better our relationships would be if we would choose (yes, it has to be a conscious choice) to look for the good in each other instead of focusing on the negatives. I know that I'm not perfect (no laughing) and I don't want my husband to dwell on that so why would I do it to him.

This takes me back to one of my previous posts. The words to "Encouragement" by Don Wharton are very fitting with the rest of this post. Just imagine what we can accomplish with a little encouragement. Even more, imagine the possibilities of what our children can accomplish in their lives if given ample encouragement. Pretty powerful!

Have a great week!


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