There are lots of qualities that matter: character, integrity, stability. But here’s something else to consider and teach your children: look for someone who encourages you and has a positive outlook. It’s hard to have a happy marriage when your partner constantly criticizes you or makes you feel inadequate. Your spouse should be trying to build you up, not tear you down. And, it’s easier to have a happy marriage when you’re with someone who finds hope in situations instead of always seeing the glass half empty. So, look for someone who has a positive attitude about working through the tough spots in your relationship.
The Pew Research Center asked 18–25 year olds what their most important goal was in life. 81% answered, “To get rich.” That’s a tragedy. If there is one unmistakable lesson from history, it’s that living for money leads to a hollow, regretful and corrupt existence. Ask a few Wall Street bankers. But our culture inundates children with the “money is everything” lie. As parents, it is incumbent on us to not only teach our kids what really matters, but also the things in life that don’t really matter, starting with the false hope of wealth.
Your children need help in developing self-discipline and self-control. Allow them, within reason, to suffer the unpleasant consequences of their mistakes, such as walking to school when they miss the bus or paying for the repairs when they put a dent in the family car. Most important, encourage them to spend time in the Word of God and to invite Jesus into their hearts. When they give their lives to Him, they will begin to enjoy the fruits of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22)—including self-control.
Consider this testimonial from a dad: “I just wanted to share an awesome experience I had with my daughter this week. My girl asked me to go to her school and have lunch with her. I let a few weeks go by and I took a day off from work to surprise her. Let me tell you I have never seen my daughter happier. She was not expecting me, but when she saw me, her face lit up and she could not stop kissing me and hugging me. We sat outside of the cafeteria and had a lunch on a picnic table. After lunch, I went with her and her classmates to recess. Her classmates were also thrilled that I was there. When it was time for me to leave, my daughter got teary-eyed along with her two other friends. Once she got home from school, she could not stop talking about me meeting her for lunch. It was an unbelievable experience and one that I am sure neither of us will ever forget.”
What a great idea! Put a lunch date with your VIP’s on your calendar.
A traveler was walking along a road when robbers suddenly attacked him. They tore his clothes, beat him, and left him to die. Eventually a priest walked down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed on the other side. Later, a local man came upon the scene, but he, too, passed on the other side. Finally, a stranger from another land walked down the road, noticed the beaten man, and rushed to his aid. He bandaged the man’s wounds, helped him onto his own donkey, and transported him to an inn to take care of him. The next day he paid the innkeeper to look after the man.
You are no doubt familiar with this story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–37). Have your children heard it, too? Jesus told the par-able to show us who our neighbors are—everyone around us—and how we should lovingly respond to their needs. Does the elderly woman on the corner need help with her yard? Does your teen know a classmate who needs a friend? Opportunities to serve are all around us.
As you teach your children to love their neighbors as themselves, you might ask: Are they learning to understand and empathize with others’ feelings? Do they resist the urge to be selfish and demanding? Are they learning to share? We’re never closer to God than when we seek to love one another.
This can be a frustrating task, but author Joe White suggests seven ways to motivate our children in whatever they do. First, have realistic expectations of your child. Not every child will make straight A’s or start on their sports team. Second, be a model of motivation. Your child needs to see you loving your work, exercising, and celebrating goals achieved. Third, make sure your child breaks a mental and physical “sweat.” Don’t over protect or over provide. Let them work out some problems themselves.
When someone gives you an unexpected compliment, it can make your day. So, why not do the same for your kids? Observe the little things they do every day and let them know they’re appreciated. For example, compliment your child’s character. In today’s world, they need all the encouragement they can get. Point out their integrity, dependability, or loyalty. Second, let your child know you’re happy to have them as part of the family. Take a moment to say you’re glad to be their mom or dad. Third, compliment their contributions to the family… things like mowing the lawn or helping with dinner.