Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” 1 And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.
Word of Hope
As I indulged in some Christmas shopping, I observed parents struggling to shop with children. While that can be an absolutely delightful experience, it is often not. My heart went out to the crying toddlers and their stressed-out parents. Today I want to share a story on behalf of all the children in our community and their parents who would love to parent more peacefully.
I was teaching a two-day parenting course when I stressed the importance of being a friend to their child’s excitement. (Listen up. This applies to the child within each of us as well as our offspring). I described entering a store with a toddler who spots a display of balloons.
“Balloon!” cries the child with hands outstretched.
Now, the parent has to make a choice. Some will start a lecture on why the child cannot have everything they see or want. Others will try to ignore the child. Some will respond with a stern “No!”
The wise parent will choose none of the above things, as those options fail to befriend the child’s excitement. Rather the parent can join the child’s delight in the balloons and say, “Oh yes, look at all the pretty colors! Perhaps name some of the colors. (Keep pushing the cart.) If the child expresses a wish to have one, the parent can say, “Oh, wouldn’t it be fun to have a whole bunch of them? How about a room full, or a house full? How about a sky full?” The cart keeps moving. Something else will no doubt catch the child’s attention and the game can start all over. If the child insists they actually want something, the parent can take out a handy little book containing the child’s Wish List, and dutifully record the wish. These wishes can be reviewed often to see which ones remain to be fulfilled on birthdays or other special occasions.
One doubting couple assured me I had not met their four-year-old, if I thought such a thing would work. Before the next day’s session they took the child to a store they knew had just such a display of balloons. They returned the next day to report. Their daughter had cried, “Balloon!” just as expected. The mother responded by saying yes, they were pretty. Then she said oh, wouldn’t it be fun to have a whole bunch, etc. The little girl
agreed then said, “I wanted you to see them.” The mother thanked the child for showing her the balloons. The parents learned that their child was not as demanding as they had thought, and they all enjoyed their shopping experience with no tantrums.
I wish for all children and their parents a happy and peaceful new year, filled with excitement and loving moments.
Loving God, help us to be mindful of the “least” among us. Help us to value every moment we spend with each other. Help us to notice the parents who struggle, and the children who are hurting and sad. May we take every opportunity to support them and offer our love even as you have loved us. Grant us peace on earth and in each of our homes. We love you, God. We appreciate all the loving moments that you have given us. Amen
Carole Anne Sarah