“I once read a popular child-training book that warned readers not to affirm their children too much, lest they come to depend on the affirmation. The author also cautioned that verbal encouragement is essentially flattery and could cause children to be vain. I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t believe it now!” 1
I agree. Unfortunately this is the norm in our society. There are many on this women’s page that have grown up without encouragement from their moms and/or dads. In fact, many grew up in dysfunctional families, their cup void of this vitally important element, encouragement. Satan certainly has had his hands in the destruction of our families throughout Western culture, destroying personal time we would have had to stop our busyness and become familiar with our children so that we can see their good qualities and make it known to them as often as we can. It takes thought and effort, but it’s well worth the sacrifice.
If we don’t make the effort, our children can suffer from discouragement to the point of not believing they are lovable. There’s a delicate balance between discipline and encouragement; but oftentimes the encouragement is lacking. As they grow up, they can come to feel that their Father in heaven doesn’t love them unconditionally, and that they can never do enough to earn His approval. How can we teach our children God is an encouraging God and that He has unconditional love for them?
God offers a solution to our dilemma. He has given us His words of life, the story of who He is. He encouraged others, and asked that we follow in His footsteps. There is much to say about His love for us. Christ was a very encouraging Teacher; and the Bible says that “If we have seen Him, we have seen the Father.”
John 6:46 “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father.”
John 14:9 “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”
“Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He constantly used words of encouragement to affirm those around Him. “I’ve never seen such great faith in all of Israel” to a Roman solider… “A man in whom there is no guile!” to reach the heart of Nathaniel. “Mary has chosen the good part!” to the friend who put aside her duties in order to sit at His feet to listen to Him.” 1
Encouragement gives us all the motivation to be the best we can be, to keep going, to try to live up to what God has planned for us, to live happy, whole lives. Think about it. As a wife, we certainly long for our husband’s appreciation. Don’t we all thrive in that kind of environment?
That is not to say that we must praise our children indiscriminately, however. It has to be true, based on careful observation of a child’s strengths and efforts. Christ gives us an example of His heart of encouragement in Revelation chapter 3 in His letter to the churches when giving correction. He always searches for the good in the churches before he gives correction.
“Even gentle words of correction if balanced with affirmation of a child’s potential and efforts, can be encouraging but thoughtless criticism merely stings a child’s soul.” 1
“I really appreciate you helping me today! I don’t know what I would do without my strong boy!” “What a great job you did on making the table beautiful! God has made you so artistic!” “Thank you for caring so much for your brother by sharing your toys with him!” “Thank you for being so nice asking to help mommy…..” This list is endless. Create opportunities so that you can appreciate and express your thankfulness.
I know I have to stop throughout the day, even though my kids are grown and left home, and remember that they still need encouragement too. If you feel discouraged, the best way to overcome that feeling is to show appreciation and encourage someone else. An added bonus, it’s a surefire remedy for being overly critical, a character trait we all strive to overcome. If we continue to remind ourselves to do this, it will become second nature. Try tacking notes throughout your home or wherever you are most of the day for gentle reminders. If you work outside the home, try leaving encouraging notes on the kitchen table where your children will see them first thing in the morning. My husband was great with this when my children were growing up. Many of them still have his notes collected from their childhood years. Start with your children today and watch your children blossom.
Let’s, therefore, take the time to season our words today with appreciation and encouragement, so that we can be the nurturer that God designed us to be.
* 1 “Mission of Motherhood” by Sally Clarkston
My daughter has begun a book study on the above book. You can join in on the discussion through the chapters by visiting Mission of Motherhood Book Study. We’d love to hear from you! Keep up the good work ladies! Love to you all!
What is Your Destiny is a great booklet to describe God’s love for you, that you can become His very child in His family. A book of great encouragement!