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And a Little Child Shall Lead Them
By Susan Hines-Brigger

Q U I C K S C A N

A Timeless Reminder
Learn Something
For Teens: Take Charge
For Kids: Give Them a Hand

"Mom, can you play video games with me?”

There it was. That ever-dreaded question I hear all too often. My four-year-old son, Alex, loves to play video games. I, on the other hand, can’t stand them. Mostly I don’t like them because I can’t seem to work the controller and pay attention to what’s going on in the game at the same time. (Insert walking and chewing gum joke here.)

“I’m really busy right now, Alex,” I replied, hoping he’d buy it. “Plus, you know I’m not real good at playing those games.”

“It’s O.K., Mom. I’ll show you how,” he responded, his big blue eyes staring right at me.

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A Timeless Reminder

For some reason, Alex’s words seemed particularly poignant to me this month. I can’t help but wonder if thousands of years ago, as they cuddled Jesus in that manger, if Mary and Joseph could have ever imagined what their son would teach them and so many others. I know when I first gave birth to my kids, I couldn’t imagine that. But at the same time, I often find myself unwilling to stop and let them teach me. And I’m not quite sure why.

I’m always in awe when I read or witness acts by children that teach me on so many levels. You know what I’m talking about: the stories about young kids donating their birthday money to charity or selling lemonade for a good cause. Each time I hear one of those stories, I’m stopped in my tracks. But I shouldn’t be.

In Isaiah 11:6, haven’t we heard time and time again of “a little child to guide them”? So why don’t we listen? Maybe we’re too busy. Maybe it’s because we think we know better than kids. Maybe we’ve become too cynical and pessimistic that something like a lemonade stand could make a difference.

Or maybe it’s because we just haven’t given kids the opportunity to teach us.

Learn Something

This month as we celebrate the birth of Christ, perhaps we should take some time and rejoice in the joy and hope that a child can bring to us—and be open to what that child might teach us. Here are some suggestions to help:

Be a follower. Our kids can teach us a lot if we let them. Watch and listen to your kids. See what they can teach you about things such as friendship, honesty, enjoying the moment, etc. Often, adults try to pass cynicism off as realism. Look to kids for a true example of realism.

Let go of control. As hard as it is to admit sometimes, our way is not necessarily the only way or the right way to do things. Let your children figure out their own way of doing things—within reason. For instance, I’m sure Mary was not too happy when Jesus disappeared during their trip to the Temple (Luke 2:41-51)

Say yes sometimes. As I said before, I’m not a fan of video games. But the one time I did say yes to Alex and played with him, we had a lot of fun. I even beat the one part of his game that he had been struggling with—don’t ask me how—earning me hero status in his eyes for quite some time.

Look at the big picture. While I may not get another load of laundry done or the dishwasher loaded because I took the time to play with my kids, I will get more in return. They’re only going to be young once. I need my kids to remind me to take those time-outs.

Show your support. Not all kids receive the type of love and nurturing that they need to display their God-given talents. Encourage those children that you do know, and pray for those you don’t. Support organizations that help children achieve their full potential.

Next Month: It's All About Choices

 

For Teens: Take Charge

Perhaps one of the reasons adults can’t seem to let go of control over their kids is that they don’t believe kids can handle certain situations on their own. So why not prove them wrong? Especially at this time of year, you could choose from a ton of things to prove that you are responsible. Volunteer to take on a task that one of your parents would normally have to do.

For instance, if you can drive, offer to run some errands for your mom or dad. Or take charge of getting Christmas presents for some people on your family’s lists. You can either make or buy something; just make sure you fulfill your responsibility. Or watch your siblings—as in play games with them, read to them, etc.—while your parents go Christmas shopping. You’ll be surprised how differently your parents will treat you.

For Kids: Give Them a Hand

As a reminder to your parents that you can always give them a helping hand or show them how to do something, why not make them a helping-hand wreath?

First get four sheets each of red and green construction paper. Trace one of your hands—or ask someone else to do it for you—onto each sheet. Cut them out and glue them together in the shape of a wreath, with the fingers facing out.

Now get creative and decorate the wreath. Put a picture of yourself in the middle of the wreath, or decorate the wreath with stickers, paint pens or other art supplies. When you give the wreath to your mom or dad, tell them that it’s a reminder that you can always lend them a helping hand when they need it. Sometimes parents need to be reminded of that.

 

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to Family@franciscanmedia.org.


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