As parents, we need to be careful that we don’t make the light go out of their eyes, as happened in the story I’m going to share.
I watched it happen.
At a gathering with family and friends over the holidays, I watched as an older teen excitedly went into the kitchen to try and make a new recipe for eggnog. Her eyes were glowing with excitement over trying her hand at this new recipe. I watched as she began by putting eggs into a tall cup, and adding some nutmeg to it.
Just then her dad came into the kitchen, and asked “What are you DOING?!” She told him she was making her own eggnog from a recipe she found in an old antique cookbook.
He responded with little encouragement, “I’ve never tasted homemade eggnog that is good. It’s only good when you buy it at the store.”
She tried to lighten the moment by saying, “But it’s from an OLD cookbook – it should be good!”
She proceeded to add milk to the cup, and before I knew what had happened, the cup fell over, and the whole concoction spilled all over the table and onto the floor. She quickly reached for paper towels and began to try to catch some of it before more ran unto the floor.
The dad responded with annoyance, “Now look what a mess you made. What a waste!” I saw her eyes dim a little.
Then I watched as he said in a condescending tone, “Let ME wipe that up. Don’t you know how to use a paper towel?!”
The little light that was left in her eyes then disappeared. I saw the light go out of her eyes.
This scene played over and over in my mind, and I wondered how often I had been guilty of making the light go out of my kids’ eyes. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it, more than I care to admit.
Perhaps it was during a moment of frustration when one of them “just didn’t get it” when I was explaining a new math concept to them; or when they had an idea they were excited about, and I responded with all the reasons it wouldn’t work.
It’s easy to do, but because I want to have the hearts of my children, it’s something I have to daily be careful about. I don’t want to “throw water” on their ideas. I want them to feel valued, and feel that I find every idea of theirs to be amazing, because I think THEY are amazing!
When we first began our family, we were fortunate to be in a church where the pastor spoke often about parenting, and bringing your kids up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. One of the things I remember him saying was “You need to let them know they are the apple of your eye, and make them always feel feel loved and accepted.”
In context of his teaching, he wasn’t saying to give in to them or spoil them; rather he was stressing the importance of affirming them; letting them know you LIKE them, and delight in them.
I think this is one of the most important things we can do not only to give our kids security and confidence, but also to WIN THEIR HEART. Keeping the light in their eyes goes right along with winning their heart!
What things make the light go out of their eyes?
- Scolding or belittling them when they have not intentionally done anything wrong. Don’t scold over accidents and spills – they happen.
- Giving little concern for their feelings; embarrassing them in front of others
- Treating them in a condescending way, like they are stupid
- Never having confidence that they can or will do something right
- Not realizing they are growing up, and respecting their thoughts and ideas
- Not giving them the affirmation & love they need
- Failing to make it obvious to them that they are the light of your life, and you don’t just love them, but you DELIGHT in them, and who they are.
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All of us have probably been guilty of some of these things at one time or another, as we are imperfect parents who sometimes respond wrong. The important thing is to apologize when you realize you’ve done it!
Make it a goal to be sure your kids know you truly do delight in them, and who they are! Nothing will keep that light shining in their eyes more than knowing their parents love them!
What are you doing to keep the light shining in the eyes of your kids?