It's easy to say no. It's easy to get annoyed of constant questions and want peace and quiet. It's easy to lose patience and set ridiculous demands on our children. It's easy to ignore the desires of our children but stay well tuned to our own desires. It's easy to see the sliver in our children's eyes while ignoring the planks in our own.
Now I'm not saying that we always say yes, that we ignore tantrums, disobedience, or disrespect. I'm not saying that we give our kids everything they demand or want, that we don't set boundaries and healthy expectations. Setting rules, especially for our young children, is vitally important as is prompt discipline. But move on, don't dwell on the disobedience or whatever it may be, and don't get openly frustrated and angry with our children. They see us and they're watching, learning.
What I'm saying here is that we, as Christian parents, should learn to say yes more often than we say no. As Doug Wilson stated in a recent sermon on fatherhood, "your garden of yes should have a tree of no in it, and not the other way around."
So how can we say yes to our children?
-Listen to them. Stop texting, typing, watching TV, reading, cooking, talking, or doing whatever it is we're doing and listen. Really listen.
-Buy them a new toy or two once in a while. We should bless our children with good things just as our Heavenly Father blesses us with good things. Matthew 7:11
-Play with our children. Dress up, pretend along with them, make a mess.
-Pray with our children and for them. And I don't mean just praying for obedience, attitude changes, or just an easier time for ourselves. We should pray with them and lift them up.
-Tell stories and read books with them. Read something fun!
-Be silly! Talk in silly voices, make faces, get them laughing.
-Dance and sing songs. Stick a CD in or make up your own songs. They don't have to be complex. Emery and I have a "We're going to Target" song...and those are basically the lyrics. I'm no Mozart. :)
-Do a weekly craft with them. Keep it simple.
-Realize they aren't deaf. They can hear us. Try to include them in our conversations as much as possible.
-Let them help: clean, cook, rake, garden, fold, etc. Even if it gets messier in the process!
-Take them out on a special date. A one-on-one date with mom or dad to get ice cream or go to a park or on a walk.
-Talk to them. Ask them about their day and what they did or saw that day.
-Teach them something new. Even if they are young we can talk through what we are doing and let them feel involved.
-Take time to explain something thoroughly. Or as thoroughly as they'll understand at their age.
Make time. It's easy to get busy, fill our schedules, and ignore the needs of our children. It's easy to want a little "me" time and get frustrated with the needs of our children. Making time doesn't necessarily mean setting aside hours and hours everyday for one-on-one attention for each child. It means being there, in the moment, listening, talking, singing, playing, and loving our kids in the midst of everyday activities. It means setting aside something that I want to do. It means being selfless and not selfish. Sacrificing my wants and desires for that of my child.
Let's realize the weight of what God has called us to as Christian parents. Our job is to admonish our children, to instruct them in God's commands and turn their hearts to Him, and to mold them into arrows for the kingdom. They learn from us and model our behavior. If we have hearts of annoyance and impatience then they will. If we have short fuses, so will they. If we don't give them time and ignore them then they'll do the same. How can we expect something of our children that we are unable to model? Let's say yes to our kids as often as we can.