Recently, I sat down and thought long about my love for my children and asked God how I could better demonstrate it to them. From that time with Him, I wrote the following, moreorless as a promise to keep and some guidelines for future communication:
I want my children to understand that my relationship with each of them is unique but equally special to me; that each is my personal favorite, celebrated daily in their uniqueness, valued, appreciated, adored!
I give my children freedom to be different, to relate to me differently, to challenge me, to have different requirements, needs, and preferences, and as individuals to dream their own dreams and choose different lifestyles.
I want it understood that no matter my child’s choices, performance, accomplishments, my love remains constant, only deepening day to day and year to year. I want my children to feel secure in my love for them, safe in my acceptance of them, blessed in being a blessing to me. I will do my best to foster this.
While I desire perfection, I will continually misrepresent God my Perfect Father, fail and disappoint my children. I would like for this not to be misinterpreted as a lack of love on my part, and certainly not on His. I would like my children to know I am but a toddler attempting to follow God in parenting and grandparenting. I plead for grace and mercy in this.
I want to enter my children’s hearts and worlds to know them, but at times I will fail miserably. I want them to know nonetheless that, under God, I cherish them above all else in this life and world. I want them to know I am highly interested in them and cherish time spent with them. I want them also to know I need them, but will endeavor in my need not to distract them unnecessarily or pull on them emotionally so as to interfere with investing in other relationships.
I want the next generation of my family to know how much I love them, more importantly to perceive God’s love through me. I gladly choose to carve out time to nurture, support, and make fond memories corporately and individually with my family members.
I want it understood that at times circumstances will demand I focus on and attend to one particular child. There will be seasons of devoting more time to one over another, and yet each in turn will be supported in crises and celebrated in victories to the best of my ability. I am dust however and will make a mess of things not matter how hard I try or how sensitive I seek to be. I plead for grace and forgiveness and promise to offer my children the same. I am committed to making adjustments as life changes and whenever I realize I’m out of balance. I welcome my family’s help in this.
I also am never enough, but I will seek to hear God and respond in my frailty with His strength to people’s needs around me, and trust Him in this rather than yielding to people-pleasing in order to feel liked/valued. I need as much help with this as the next person and will strive to obtain and receive it. I will grow and learn as a communicator and seek to humble myself and not be defensive or in other ways shut down communication. I will apologize when wrong and seek reconciliation, no matter the cost.
I will use “I statements” in an unselfish way to reveal needs, hopes, desires, hurts for purposes of remaining intimately acquainted and connected to a few, most especially my family members.
I will use “You statements” to build up and not tear down.
I will back off and let the dust settle when I sense I’ve hurt or overstepped. I will after a time however come near again and work on our relationship all my days, and no matter the ups and downs.
I will try to initiate reconciliation and when necessary agree to disagree, letting go of pride and anger for the higher good. I will by God’s grace love well, remain open, and take risks to deepen bonds.
To the best of my ability, I will not sweep problems under the rug or allow resentment or bitterness to build or take root. As soon as I realize I’m headed in this direction, I’ll seek God’s help to overcome and bring problems and feelings into the light. I’ll not avoid healthy conflict resolution. I’ll pursue love and thwart the enemy’s plans to divide. I’ll identify and silence enemy lies with truth and good communication.
I’ll take risks and trust fallible people who love me to help me and care for me.
I will allow God to heal me of childhood issues and communicate when necessary to receive needed help. For instance, I will admit, “This reminds me of a feeling I had often as a child of not being preferred, noticed, of interest, of being abandoned, of being expected to figure things out, of feeling stupid, unprotected, alone… I’m therefore tending to overreact to the present situation and need help putting the past behind me.” I will grow up into a deeper knowledge of Father God.
I will try my best not to manipulate, coerce, condemn, accuse, or in any way pressure or offend when I’m in need or hurting. When I fail, I’ll quickly seek forgiveness and to right the wrong, strengthening my relationships and promoting healing and unity.
I will suggest what I believe will improve our relationship and open myself up to your suggestions. I will own my feelings and practice “I statements” for the good of all. Some examples to follow four pages of “I statements”!
- I need more face time/one-on-one time with you
- I want to plan a trip to ___ to spend time with ___ as a family if possible.
- I feel I’m having to compete for attention lately. I know you love me and would want to know this. I trust you will respond to my feelings and needs as best you know how and I will wait patiently on God to move and bring us closer.
- I’m feeling jealous and want freedom from it. I need help with this please.
- I’m feeling lonely, left out, overlooked, sad, stressed out, depressed, etc.
- I just need to vent, need a hug, need my value affirmed, need prayer. I do not need an answer or to be fixed.
I will express my heart honestly as best I can and even when misunderstood or disappointed will persevere in our relationship, doing my part to nurture it and grow in it. I will love well. For love never fails!!
By God’s grace I will keep this covenant with my God and my children,