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Tips for parenting part 2: Love has many different facets

Adventures of a Senior Citizen


When teaching your child to take responsibility for his actions, try to make it fun and not a grim task. It is important to lighten up. When the milk gets spilt, the sky does not fall. Blame does not help the child cope, and if the child is being naughty, help him know that that is unacceptable, but forgive the deed and love the child.

In trying to put the principles in order of importance, I think the first would be: Love your children unconditionally. That means your love for them is not dependent upon their good behavior. This is not as simple as it sounds for love has many facets.

Love is not simply kissing your child and speaking kindly; it involves so much more. Love must be wise. Real love means doing for your child that which is for his highest good. Sometimes this may cause pain. The removal of infected tonsils is not a pleasant experience but is for his future good. Punishment is given a toddler who gets out into the street in order to protect him from future trips to the street and getting hit by a car.

If I could do it over again, I would spend more time encouraging my children rather than commenting on their failures or lack of effort. We all respond better to affirmation than to criticism. Help them to rise to their potential by believing in themselves.

Love is not giving him everything he wants, but helping him to be content with what he has. Love frequently means standing by and letting him take the bumps and falls of life, for if we protect him from everything, he cannot learn some very important lessons.

Next in importance, see that your child obeys you and that you don’t obey him. Before he is old enough to reason, he must learn to obey his parents without question, for his very life — spiritual as well as physical — depends upon it. Susanna Wesley, a very wise woman and the mother of John and Charles Wesley, founders of Methodism, said that the child must learn to submit his will to a higher authority (his parents) as a step toward learning to give up his will to God. The salvation of our souls depends upon our surrendering our will to God.  

This leads to the next principle: Teach your child to respect you. This respect is won when you are truthful, honest and keep your promises. You cannot force your child to love and respect you. You must, by your actions towards him and others, create respect. Treat him with respect, and do not allow him to “walk all over you.”

Seeing the humor in situations, and learning to laugh at ourselves with our children can solve many problems. The best remembered times are those when we have laughed together.

The last principle that I share is perhaps the most important. Teach your children to love, trust and serve God. Developing a religious faith begins in the home. Learning how to pray begins at home.  It is so important to pray with and for your children. Set the example and they will follow.

With God’s help, if you practice these principles, you are more likely to have children who are respectful, responsible, loving, and happy.

Ruth Justice Moorer, a resident of Las Cruces since 1996, is a former public-school science teacher and United Methodist pastor.