I remember one hot summer day when I was probably about 6 or 7 years old. My twin sister, mom, and I had gone to an ice cream shop. (Something we rarely did, so that made it extra special!) We were all eating our ice cream cones when I accidentally licked my ice cream right off the cone. It fell to the ground and splattered, and I was devastated! My mom told me it was ok and quietly handed me her ice cream cone so I wouldn’t have to go without. I know it sounds funny, but I remember clearly thinking, “Wow! She must really love me a lot to give up her ice cream cone for me!” That was the first time I had ever really stopped to think about how much my mom loved me.
IMPORTANT NOTE: At the bottom of this article, you’ll find information about how to enter a giveaway for Mother’s Day. We hope this article is a blessing to you, and we hope (after reading it) you’ll enter the giveaway. Twenty-five bloggers have written articles to bless moms, and we’ve all chipped in to give away five $100 prizes. Happy Mother’s Day!
Having been a mom myself for almost 25 years now, I’ve learned a lot about being a mother. I’ve made mistakes (lots of them!) with my children, and I’m sure that will continue even though my “children” are now 24, 23, and 17 years old. But I’ve tried my best to take care of my children, to love them, and to teach them to love others. I truly believe that, if we want our children to be successful in life, it’s more important that they learn to love themselves and others than it is for them to be knowledgeable, well-spoken, well-dressed, or anything else people typically consider to be a sign of being successful.
But how do we teach our children to love? This may be one of the most important questions we as moms ask ourselves. We will never be perfect examples. We will make mistakes. But that’s okay. Teaching our children to love doesn’t mean never making a mistake. (But that’s often the standard we set for ourselves, isn’t it?)
Let’s talk about practical ways we moms can teach our children to love themselves and others.
1. Show Them How to Love Others
No, we don’t have to be perfect examples. The truth is that we won’t be perfect examples no matter how hard we try! In fact, I don’t even think we should try to be perfect because it’s not realistic. If we want our children to know how to love others, we have to set an honest and real example–mistakes and all. Our children will only feel like failures if they see us as perfect, so we need to show them that it’s okay to make mistakes. We need to show them that part of loving each other is admitting when we make mistakes, apologizing, and moving on. We need to be honest and real with our children. We should be kind and loving as often as possible, and we need to be willing to apologize and admit our mistakes when we aren’t.
Creating a Better World by Example is an article I wrote several years ago, but it is still very relevant today. It is a short article, but it shares some important information about looking for the best in others, using kind words and actions, and setting a good example of loving kindness for our children.
2. Show Them It’s Important to Love Ourselves
I think it’s important for our children to know that having good self-esteem and loving ourselves doesn’t mean we’re being selfish. It’s important that we take good care of ourselves so we can take good care of our families! This might mean something like taking some time for “mom time” when you can. It might mean having a date night or weekend away with your husband. It might mean eating well and exercising on a regular basis. Whatever healthy habits you can form to help you be a happier, better person will most likely make you a happier, better mom too! If we want our children to grow up knowing they should take care of themselves, we should set an example of taking care of ourselves too.
Making Time for Mom Time shares simple and practical information for moms who need to start setting aside some “mom time” but aren’t sure how to do it. It will also help you realize that you aren’t being selfish when you take time for yourself; instead, you’re doing something that will help you be a better mom.
Dear Homeschool Mom: How to Love Your Husband While Homeschooling is a letter to homeschooling moms. Sometimes we aren’t sure how to take time to love our husbands and nurture our marriages because we get so overwhelmed with homeschooling and taking care of our children–especially while our children are very young. This letter will encourage you to think of ways to love your husband even during these crazy busy homeschool years.
3. Love Them for Who They Are
How to Survive Homeschooling Your Teenage Son is an article I wrote during my son’s homeschool years. (He’s now a 23-year-old adult who has flown the nest.) Whether you have sons or daughters, I think you’ll find the information helpful. In this article, I share seven tips for ways to help our children understand that we love them for who they are–not who we want them to be. Yes, we should encourage our children to be the best and do the best they can. But we should love them for who they are at the same time. This can be a delicate balance!
10 Ways to Show Our Teens We Like Them is similar to the previous article, but it specifically shares information about helping our teens (and younger children too) know that we like them. Our children often feel like we have to love them, but they need to know we like them too!
4. Value Their Opinions
Children love to give their opinons! (To be honest, we adults love to give our opinions too!) Parents have more wisdom and experience and must usually make the final decision about what’s best for our children, but our children still need to know that we value their opinions and will consider them whenever possible.
If you’re going on vacation and it’s possible to allow your children to have a say about where you go, do it! That’s a great way to let them know that you truly do care where they want to go and what they want to do. (You may have to give them some options to choose from.) If you’re playing a game or planning to spend the day doing something fun together, let them decide what game to play or what activity to do that day. Let them decide what to have for dinner. Have them choose which movie to watch on your family’s movie night. Let them choose the next family read-aloud book. Depending on the ages of your children, the things you’ll let them voice their opinions about may be much different than the suggestions on this list, but you can still give them chances to voice their opinions and be heard.
While you’re allowing them to voice their opinions, be sure to let them know that this should be done in a respectful way. I’m almost always willing to allow my children to help make decisions and to voice their opinions as long as they are kind and respectful. You should also make sure your children understand that you as parent must make the final decision most of the time.
5. Praise Hard Work
If we want our children to love themselves and others, they need to be diligent workers! Most children who are lazy are also rather selfish. These children don’t care enough about others to be willing to set aside their own desires to work to help others. (Of course it’s important to take into consideration our children’s ages. Very young children don’t understand how to be unselfish. This is something they learn through example and through hard work as they get older.)
To teach our children to work hard, we need to praise their efforts and hard work! We don’t need to brag on our children for being beautiful (or handsome) or for being smart (something they were gifted with when they were born). But we do need to brag on our children for working hard–which is something they have control over and can choose to do or not to do.
Why You Don’t Want a “Smart” Kid addresses the issue of whether we should praise our children for being smart or, instead, if we should praise them for being hard workers. Read the article and make a decision for yourself!
6. Set Boundaries
I’m sure you’ve probably met some kids whose parents give them everything they could possibly want. And what do those kids want? More! They want more of everything. There’s no amount of “stuff” that can ever make them happy. You’ve probably also met kids whose parents don’t set any boundaries concerning what they watch on television, what they say, where they go, etc. Those kids too are always pushing the limits and wanting to watch things, say things, and go places that are not good for them.
I do believe we need to allow our children to make decisions for themselves as they grow up. It’s important for them to grow in maturity and wisdom and responsibility. However, God gave parents to children for a reason. Children need guidance and instruction for years before they are mature enough to make their own decisions. They need parents who love them and who will help them learn to make good decisions. After being taught and guided and nurtured, they can begin to make good decisions for themselves. But if we give them the responsibility (and the burden) of making decisions for themselves before we’ve taught them how to make good decisions and allowed them to develop the maturity to do so, we’re not helping them. We’re hurting them.
We need to look at setting boundaries not as a bad thing but as a good thing! We are setting boundaries for our children’s good. They may not appreciate it or see it that way right now (which is a sign that they aren’t ready to make mature decisions for themselves), but hopefully they will see in the future that we did it for their good.
7. Have Fun and Develop a Close Relationship with Them
Can homeschooling be fun? Yes! Should it be fun? Yes! When our children are enjoying what they’re doing, they’re going to remember more. They’re going to want to do their school work. (Well, at least they’ll want to do it more than they would have if they didn’t enjoy it!) And they’re going to enjoy the time they spend with us more–therefore strengthening their relationship with us. Those are all good things! After all, there’s no reason for homeschooling to be a miserable job for parent and children! There are lots of ways to make homeschooling enjoyable and to spend these years developing a closer relationship with our children.
Three Ways to Choose JOY in the Everyday Homeschool is an article that share a few simple tips for adding joy to your homeschool day.
To find out how to add more fun and games to your homeschool, read our article: Gameschooling and Homeschooling: Why and How to Incorporate Games.
And if you have young children and wonder if it will all be worth it some day, I think you’ll find The Heart of a Homeschool Mom to be an encouragement to you.
8. Listen to Their Hopes, Dreams, and Concerns
One of the best ways to teach our children to love themselves is to help them feel like they are worthy of our time. Like they’re helpful. Like we appreciate them and their contributions to the household. Like we care about them and their opinions.
How do we teach our children to feel worthy of our time? That’s an easy one to answer, but it’s not always so easy to do! We have to spend time with them doing things they enjoy. Not only does this show them that they are worthy of our time, but it shows them that we enjoy spending time with them and care about their likes and dislikes.
How do we teach them that they’re helpful and that we appreciate their contributions to the household? Teach them to help! Give them jobs to do and thank them for a job well done. Brag on their hard work and let them know how much we appreciate it when they do a great job on something. (This should always be sincere. Don’t brag on a half-done, half-hearted job. It’s fine to thank a young children for folding clothes even if they clothes aren’t well folded if that’s the best your young child can do. But never brag on a job that was purposefully done in a sloppy way.)
How do we teach them that we care about their hopes, dreams, and opinions? Ask for them! Consider them. Discuss them. Let them know that we want to hear what they dream about or hope for in the future. Let them know that we’re there for them if they’re worried about something.
9. Teach Them to Venture Outside Their Comfort Zones
Life is not always going to go according to plan. (But wouldn’t it be nice if it did?!) In order to be successful, our children are going to have to learn to step outside of their comfort zones. And, to be honest, they’ll need to venture outside their comfort zones as teens and young adults too. Isn’t that what they have to do if they need to refuse to participate in some activity they know is wrong even if everybody else is doing it? Isn’t that what they have to do if they want to do the right thing even if nobody else is doing it?
While encouraging our children to go outside their comfort zones isn’t always comfortable or fun, it can be done! And it should be done. Raising Confident Tweens and Teens: Expert Tips to Help Your Kid Step Outside Their Comfort Zone is a great article if you’d like to read more about this. It gives reasonable information and steps to follow.
10. Get Them Involved in Helping Others
6 Reasons Why Your Teen Should Volunteer explains why teens should be given the opportunity to do volunteer work and how to give them that opportunity. One of the very best ways to teach our children to love others is to help those who need it! Yes, it’s hard for our children and teens to see others hurting or in need. But there are so many benefits too! This article talks about a specific organization, but there are lots of ways children and teens can volunteer in their own local communities or through local clubs and churches.
A Special Mother’s Day Giveaway for You
Mother’s Day is a day set aside for making moms feel extra special and extra appreciated. This year Mother’s Day might look a little different for some people. No heading off to church, no special brunch at your favorite place, no gathering with extended family and friends. Just because things may be different doesn’t mean the occasion should be any less special.
I’ve gotten together with 24 of my blogging friends with the desire to bless FIVE moms this Mother’s Day (We really would love to bless you all!) and make your Mother’s Day even more memorable.
We are giving away five $100 gift cards to the place of your choice, from the following options:
- Hobby Lobby
- Restaurant of choice
- Grocery store of choice
It’s our hope and prayer that your family, and most importantly you, Sweet Mama, are blessed even more so during a Mother’s Day unlike any other. May this be a time of new experiences, new traditions, and new peace.
To enter for your chance to win, simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Now I know there are quite a few entries, but each of these bloggers generously chipped in their own money to bring you this giveaway, so I hope you will take the time to do all of the entries; it will bless them in return. And hey, the more entries you do, the better your odds are at winning!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway ends May 8th at 11:59pm EDT. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to email to claim the prize. By entering this giveaway, you will be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers. Please be sure to read the Terms & Conditions upon entering the giveaway.
Want another opportunity to win?! There is a second giveaway with the same exact prizes (just different bloggers) that you can enter as well!