March 20, 2017
One of the best gifts we can give to our children does not come wrapped with a bow on it. This gift is not something which is only given on special occasions. You don’t even have to spend a lot of money on it. And unlike so many other gifts, it will not be put away in a closet once the novelty is worn off. It cannot be broken, get rusty, or grow mold. It needs no batteries. I speak of the gift of encouragement.
The word encouragement literally means to put courage into, to inspire with courage, and to foster confidence. As parents, simply by virtue of the kind of relationship we have with our children, we have access to the means of building strength into our sons and daughters to face difficulties and challenges. We wield a tool which can make them stand tall when others around them are sitting, an instrument which will stimulate them to overcome fears and opposition, and provide leadership to others around them.
Unfortunately, many of us have never discovered the power of encouragement. We tend to point out our children’s faults, and remind them of their failures. We do not interact with them up front, or mid-stream, but rather only at the conclusion of their efforts and projects, and then our criticism rains down like hail upon their vulnerable spirits. The wise parent recognizes that words of praise and support along the way are like the people who line the streets during a marathon, cheering for the runners and providing them with water through out the race. Too many of us only wait at the finish line looking at our watches, unaware of the fact that we were needed along the way. When they don't live up to expectations, or give up along the way, our disappointment reads like a neon sign saying “it’s not worth the effort, you are a failure.”
I once heard an Olympic sprinter say that he was shocked when kneeling for the finals of his race the thought, which was going through his mind just before takeoff, was whether or not his father was watching. Our children need our encouragement. Our encouragement emboldens them to face life’s challenges, big and small. Start today. Let your children know that you are their biggest and best supporter. Your gift will be one that will never break or rust, and will never, ever be forgotten.