“Just give her extra love, Kari. Just give her extra love.”
The words were so simple, yet exactly what I needed to hear. Once again my father came through with flying colors, offering advice to ease my anxiety.
It came during a time when I was worried about my daughter. It wasn’t anything major, just a situation that had popped up.
And though I knew better, I made the mistake of getting on Google. It led me on a wild goose chase that served no purpose except to freak me out.
That’s why my father’s words were timely, because they centered me on a core truth. They gave me control in a situation beyond my control. They reminded me that no matter what anyone in my family goes through at any point in time, love is always the answer.
So I took Dad’s advice and showed extra love. It wasn’t anything big and obvious, just a little extra attention directed my daughter’s way.
And guess what happened as I made this effort? I forgot to worry. I got so wrapped up in snuggling more, listening more, laughing more, smiling more, and simply enjoying her company that my concerns soon paled in comparison.
This is when I realized a great truth in parenting: Good things can emerge from obstacles if you let love guide you. Besides growing closer to my daughter during this time, I drew closer to God. Yes, I prayed for guidance, but I also thanked Him. I thanked him for our many blessings and His plans for my child, plans I couldn’t yet see or comprehend.
I started to lie down with my daughter every night to say prayers. This routine was special because having four kids, my husband and I alternate who we put down, so no one has a set “ritual.” I looked forward to our uninterrupted time together. I could tell my daughter enjoyed it, too.
Yet it wasn’t until a few months later, when the situation had passed and everything was better, that I discovered what, exactly, our ritual meant to her. I was putting up clothes in her room one day when I noticed her open journal on her bedside table. Peering down at her sweet handwriting, I saw an entry that stopped me short:
“I love how my mom always says the prayers to me every night. When she does I feel really close to God. I feel like I can really connect with my Father Almighty.”
As you might imagine, this choked me up and brought tears to my eyes. I read the entry again – then again – to make sure she’d really written those beautiful words. You see, my goal isn’t to raise happy kids; my goal is to raise holy kids, because if they’re holy their happiness will take care of itself. So when I see evidence of a relationship with the Lord, my heart rejoices. I breathe a little easier.
And what I’d like to tell other parents is this: If you’re worried about a child right now, or find yourself worrying in the near future, remember my father’s words. Just give her extra love. You may regret getting on Google. You may regret imagining wild scenarios. You may regret the time you waste worrying and tossing and turning in bed at night.
But giving your child extra love? Showing more patience, more smiles, more hugs and kisses? You’ll NEVER regret that. If anything, you’ll wish you’d done it sooner. You’ll wonder why it took you being concerned about your child to make you a better parent, and why you hadn’t made a special effort all along.
Our children’s lives will never be perfect. They’ll all face obstacles that leave us hanging at times. But if we let love guide us, obstacles won’t matter because they’ll only make us love our child more.
As our concern for a child grows, so can our heart.
God has plans for my kids, your kids, all kids. And the obstacles that scare us today are often what prepare them for great things to come. When we parent with that perspective, trusting God to use everything together for good, we turn fear into faith and doubt into hope. We remember how God uses our children to touch the lives of others, just as He uses us.
I may have regrets in parenting, but one regret I’ll never have is showing extra love to whichever child needs it most at the time. More patience, more smiles, more hugs and kisses. And the real beauty here? More loves becomes a habit. What starts as a conscious effort soon turns into our instinctual response not only to the child we’re worried about, but to all our kids.
To me that’s a beautiful thing. It adds meaning to obstacles. As our concern for a child grows, so can our heart. May we all parent with this in mind and remember how any hard thing we face is also an opportunity to give and receive more love.
Thanks for reading this article today. If you found the message helpful, please share it through social media.
Also, I’ve written two books for teen & tween girls designed to empower them through faith. The newest one, Liked, is getting a fantastic response as a unique resource for girls of the digital age, and along with the bestselling 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, it’s being used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.
Have a great day, and thanks again for stopping by!
Posted by Kari on February 3, 2014