Raising Resilient Children

Recently I came across stories of two children-one from North and other from South India. In the South, the only son of a doctors’ family was expected to be a doctor. When his class 12th result was published, he called his mother to let her know that he has failed for one of the subjects. In the north, the scientist father expected his son to be a scientist. The son heard a lot of discouraging words from his father because he got only 83% in Class 12. Both sons chose suicide as their solution.

My Child, You’re Safe Here

I have heard stories about parents who avoid talking to their children when they get less than 90% marks. What has gone wrong with such parents? Has our education helped us to really understand our children’s talents, gifts, and hopes? Or have we become more ambitious after all? Do we really know what causes pain, grief, shame, or discouragement in children? Or are we busy making them to fit into our unfulfilled dream or to make them like our heroine or hero?

Resilience is the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. Resilience develops when children perceive success and failure as part of life. Ups and downs have been part of life ever since life began. Even though this also has been repeatedly our story, we, parent,s tend to expect only success for our children. Rather we are to create a space in our homes where they can share their fears and hopes, success, and failures without a thought of rejection. Only then they will trust us with their feelings. The first step towards this is to be transparent and share our sorrows and happiness according to the maturity of children.

Parents think over-protection is the way to develop resilient children. We tend to protect our young ones so much so that there are no possibilities for them to fail. Later, during teenage years when their independence blooms they tend to move away from overprotecting parents. Then when disappointments meet them they may not find those around them good enough to get them out of the pit of sorrow. This is because they won’t see such parents as someone in whom they can confide in their feelings. It does not mean that parents should not be involved in their kids’ lives. Yet, we can enable them to solve their problems and to make decisions according to their age. This indeed build confidence in their ability to handle life issues.

Besides, when we, parents only glorify success, it communicates to children that they are valuable as long as they earn awards and trophies. This conveys conditional love which in turn creates fear of losing their relationships. This is not to say that they are not expected to excel in their talents. But as we encourage them to excel, let them also know and feel that they are valued just because they are our children. Let them see that home is always a safe place for losers and winners alike. Last but not the least, help them to taste and know that their almighty God will never leave them nor forsake them.

Written July 11, 2013

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For Every Hour of Every Day: Things that I learned through our marriage which I pass on to you.

To Hold and to Cherish

1. You have received a precious gift from God on your wedding day.

2. You’re married to the right person.
Allowing the thought that it is the wrong person is detrimental to your relationship. You’re married! It is too late. “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” So make the best out of your marriage.

3.Your spouse is not Jesus and not perfect; only Jesus is perfect. Only Jesus can meet your deepest needs as He is the source of your life not any person or things.

4. Remember to strengthen your relationship with God. When it is there, you will have the blessing of having a good relationship with your spouse because God is a God of peace and love.

5. Find time for a “circle of two,” for prayer and Bible reading. Your family is a “miniature church.”

6. “Clean hands and a pure heart”- let this be your prayer.

7. Your first year together is only a year of romance. Years of true love are coming. So hang on. If there is no wine left, Jesus can still do miracles. He loves to give to those who ask him. He is always for you and your marriage.

8. Love is a decision, not just feelings. The commitment you make on your wedding day is to your spouse and to God.

9. To honor and love each other in words and deeds is also a decision, a daily decision may be an hourly decision. Seek opportunities to give not just receive.

10. Be determined to strive and work hard for a great marriage. If there is a will there is a way. God will give you the desires of your heart. To have a great marriage, the partners need to be authentic and transparent. So there may be differences in opinion on various issues.

11. “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” Control your temper and be polite when you argue.
When you discuss difficult issues, make sure to at least hold each other’s hand. Learn to solve these disagreements constructively to avoid big “blow ups” that devastates the relationships.
12. Forsake the “blame game.” It started in the Garden of Eden. It is not your spouse’s fault.

13. Forget all the hurt from the last argument. Once forgiven, its forgiven. So try to forget or ask God to help you to forget.

14. Say sorry even when you know your spouse has wronged you in the particular incident. You reap the result in great measure.

15. Never compare your spouse with anybody. Comparing is unfair. Your spouse is unique.
16. Do not take your spouse for granted for they have chosen to love you and to make your life brighter each day even by simple acts of kindness. Be thankful. It is also applicable to your family members and your friends.
17. Your spouse is your best friend next to Jesus. See that you value your relationship with your spouse in the midst of the pressures of life.
18. Listen to your mate. Communicate verbally and non-verbally.
19. Encourage each other. Next to God you are your spouse’s best cheer leader.
20. Find time to have fun and laugh. Create opportunities to reminiscence your “good old days.”
21. Let each of your “cup of love” be filled with your spouse’s love. It is a safety measure against temptation. Our efforts to participate in God’s vision will be effective when we are at peace with ourselves.
22. If you know a particular thing is God’s will for your life do not hesitate to accomplish it. It is part of being a mature person. This will only lead to fulfillment in marriage.
23. Difficult times develop pearls and rubies in your marriage. These times help one to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” It also provides fertile ground to grow in love towards each other and to appreciate how others care for us.
24. Taking time to bless your extended family, your church, and those in need is an opportunity to bring a smile in the lives of others.
I wrote the first draft of this piece of writing to give it to my youngest sister when she got married in June 1998. My daughter told told me one day “I do not want daddy to get old any more.” I explained to her the joys of getting old. One of the joys of getting old is to see the fruits of our hard work to build great marriage and familyPublished October 12, 2012

Present but Absent

Our house will be a home for us and many others
In my school days teachers regularly marked attendance by calling out students’ names. Those who were present would reply “present sir” and if anyone is absent, some other student will say “absent sir.” However, as classes began some of our minds might have wandered many places thus making us oblivious to the happenings of our classroom. These students were presentbut absentin their minds.
Is such absenteeism prevalent in our homes too? This is not about parents who stay away from their homes for employment or children who stay in boarding schools. But there are many homes were physical presence means nothing. Recently one teenager told me “I do not share any of my feelings with my parents.” Family members are physically present in such houses but some of them or all of them are emotionally absent. Then house is reduced to a stop over place. Essential aspects of family like cooking, eating meals together or praying together may be ritualistically practiced. However a mechanistic pattern of doing rituals do not give needed life support to its members. This is when we are present but absent in essence.

Machines have robbed opportunities of family members to share the workload. This has reduced the work for its members but also decreased the time families spend for a common purpose. Each of the family members have their own friends to talk to in the privacy of their own rooms and their own mobile phones. They enjoy their own favorite programs in their own gadgets. With less time spent together and less common space, family members grow distant from each other.

Who suffers the most from such distant relationships in families? I believe that each of the family members become victims of such emotionally absent but physically present life in our houses. When children are young, by nature they extend their physical and emotional touch to others. Yet as they grow older they will soon learn to adopt various distant behavior patterns. Here each of the family members live in their own worlds. They may share their joys together but pain and hurt are safely bottled up in their own lives. This is when houses become in essence lodges.

But houses can be homes where there is openness, love, acceptance, sharing, and forgiveness. It is where our good and bad experiences will find meaning. It is where one feels safe and secure. Even the very remembrance of the place makes one want to live even in the midst of despair. There is such an home in the Bible. The home of the prodigal son was not perfect but it was a home according to the above standards. Even after the son left home for his own personal happiness, his memory of his home was that of safety and abundance even for the servants which gave him the hope to live.

Who has the responsibility of making the house a home? Parents and other adults have a major role in this process. But as children grow older they are to be trained to build their home. As each member places the necessary bricks in the structure, it will become a home not only for its members but also for many others. Let each of us get to work to be always present in our homes. Remember each brick counts!

Written on March 18, 2012

Family Vision Statement

Rainbow

Family Vision Statement:

Where is your family heading to?

Once I participated in target shooting. The event made me realize that even when I aim at the center, often the arrows fell on different points on the board and sometimes flew outside the board. Then imagine shooting with no aim. This idea led me to introduce this topic—to develop a vision for the family.

Many of us are familiar with company’s vision statements. How important is a vision statement for a family? When my husband and I began traveling with the same vision for our life together, we become more productive and our life together became a blessing to us and others. It does not mean that our first few years of life were boring or less colourful. We have enjoyed each other and grew in love with each other ever since we got married with a deep desire to serve God and to raise a godly family. But a common vision gave us a focus to move forward and together cling to God in good and happy times.

Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Instead of simply living our lives together for 40 or 50 years how fulfilling it would be when we have a vision for our families! God’s desire for couples is to be one flesh which implies oneness in every aspect of life even though they are two people. A well framed vision statement will help to answer life’s great questions as far as the family is concerned. It is like a compass that guides the course of a ship in the vast ocean or in today’s term the GPS that directs us when we are unsure of the way. Imagine how meaningful it will be when everyone in the family knows and lives up to the purpose to which it exits! When followed closely, it can be one of the means to help to move forward with vigor and grace and every decisions will be a step towards your destination.

I guess you got my point. Why wait? Now let us get to work…

As a family (include children if they are old even to understand the discussion) prayerfully ask the following questions which can help you to frame a vision statement.

Why is our family here? Or What is God’s purpose for our family? This expresses the purpose of your family.

Where are we going? Or What do you want to achieve? This has to do with the vision of the family.

How will you get to the goal? This deals with means to achieve the vision.
What are your important values? This explains important values of your family.

As you answer these questions you are framing different parts of your family’s vision statement. Put all these answers together to one meaningful sentences. This may not be the final one but a start to see God’s unique purpose for your family.

You can post your family’s vision statement in your bedroom or kitchen and read it at least once a day!

Hope you will have the vision statement ready before I share my thoughts with you next thoughts. Until then may you live in peace with God and others!

Written on Feb 16, 2012