Friday, October 4, 2013

Letting Our Children Bloom

Creation holds God’s own signature to teach us how to nurture our children.

Ever  nurtured a sapling ? It is beautiful to see it grow while you till the soil ,add manure, water , prune it, protect it from external harm –at the same time allowing it to be exposed to the environment- gentle breeze , sunlight - to make it stand stronger with deeper roots and greener leaves , finally revealing the bud which longs to bloom from within into what it was called to be , a beautiful flower bringing a smile on your face , preparing to face the life journey ahead. Let me  pause for a moment ……

Sounds quite ‘other’ worldly ? Isn’t it difficult to  find this sight in the concrete jungle most of us live in ?  Yet this is the best analogy I could find as  God’s own model of letting children bloom in freedom. I prefer  the concept of ‘nurturing’  instead of ‘formation’ because nurturing is what  helps  children grow and continue growing throughout life. Formation on the other hand  seems like moulding the child into a  pre-decided form  and  may stop further growth.

What I mean to say is that our children  have several dimensions of their being . Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual, Social. While being rooted in the family and faith community, it is important to allow enough freedom to  not  let their growth be stifled in any dimension . It calls for wisdom and right choices  in everyday life.

FREEDOM seems to be a controversial subject in every family , often also leading to parents banging their heads against each other. But it is an important part of parenting.  I won’t talk about  psychology or techniques  in this article . Let me share with you about some attitudes

Healthy communication within the family:

Sharing of feelings verbally:

Even tiny tots have feelings. Ask them to share with you their feelings  in words – when they  are angry, sad, happy,  hungry, satisfied , jealous , sorry , lonely , fearful etc.  Being in touch  with feelings will help them gradually understand the cause of these feelings . As they grow up  train them to understand the good feeling when they make  right choices until they learn to do the right thing not because it is a rule but because it feels good and not do the wrong thing because that feels bad. Help them to understand difference between temporary pleasure and lasting joy.

Sharing of thoughts, dreams, joyful or sorrowful events etc.

Develop  in them a habit of narrating everything that happened from morning to night . They will learn not to hide anything from you . Instead of  learning lessons by –heart,  help them to understand their lessons in school . Children have much to teach us in these times of advanced  media and communications. Be open to learn from them. Keep the computer in the living room or a place where family members keep moving around  .This will balance freedom with  monitoring what they do on the internet. Let them learn to value the trust you place in them. I am  grateful to my parents who  always trusted me to maintain my integrity . This has helped me stand for my values through every situation, peer pressures and storm in life.

Non-verbal interaction and physical presence in family

Children  grow up in a healthy manner if both parents are around . They learn the greatest lessons from family life . How to share little tasks , take responsibilities, care , enjoy , overcome differences , forgive etc.  Let them know what you think or feel – through  your facial experessions. But NEVER use  physical violence to teach them a lesson.

Praying together

The family rosary is the best traditional family prayer . In today’s noisy world silence is also important. Try visiting the Blessed Sacrament Chapel as a family  if attending Mass together is difficult due to Sunday school etc. or go on pilgrimage to a Shrine. Sing spiritual songs or hymns together during special family moments. These memories will always last.

Social life together as a family

Family vacation,  annual outings , meeting friends and relatives , even  doing some act of social service together will bring blessing  and wholistic growth of children.

These are suggestions for the growth of children in all dimensions of their being . The role of parents is to show them in which direction to  grow freely ,  allowing them to learn from their own experiences in daily living , while we assure them of  our loving presence to encourage them , trusting that the best in them will bloom through this freedom.

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