As a child, I was painfully shy. We lived in a tiny settlement, not even a village. There was a hotel, liquor store, trading store, fuel station and post office, and about 3 other families lived there. I knew all the other children, most of them older than me. I was in our yard one day, making mud cakes, or on the swing or such, when the neighborhood children came by. Across the fence they greeted me. I looked up in shock, burst into tears and ran into the house to find my mom.
Many times during my childhood, I limited myself because I lacked the confidence. When I became a mother, I was hoping to raise more confident children. But how? How do you will your children to be more confident? Isn’t it just a personality thing? Some people are bolder than others, and some are more reserved. While that is true, out of my four children, Olivia is bold, Mia and David are average, and Julia is reserved. Yet, each of them can have the confidence they need to accomplish whatever is in their hearts to do.
So, one morning during my quiet time, I brought this before the Lord. I asked Him how I could raise my children to be confident. His answer was so simple, it took me a while to grasp fully: unconditional love.
If my children know they are loved unconditionally, they cannot fail.
This sounds really simple. It really is all it takes, but it is really not that easy to execute. Obviously, we all love our children unconditionally. They make us angry, sad, annoyed, but in all that we still love them all the time. But that doesn’t cut it, they need to know that they are loved unconditionally. And that, my Friends, is where I fall short, oh let me see….DAILY.
Unconditional love that leads to confidence, means letting them know they are loved when they have “failed” you. That is hard. The expression on my face speaks long before I’ve said a word, and children are super sensitive to body language. I needed to actually train my mind for this.
Of course we need to discipline them, of course we need to train them, the Word orders us to. But always in love. Not in criticism.
I also know from experience, that my confidence grows with every successful attempt at something. Our children need practice. They need plenty of opportunities to be successful. Give them those opportunities. But choose wisely, so that they will be assured of success. And when their confidence has grown, begin to give them more challenging tasks, because unfortunately, we also need to learn to deal with frustration and the occasional failure. And then they need to be loved, not criticized through their failure.
It’s an impossible task. But then again, parenting is an impossible task. Thankfully I can be trained.
Note to self: Love the children through their failures today.
Oh and, give yourself some grace, God does!