Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can hold all kinds of emotions for us. For some of us it’s a joyful day and we give loving sentiments to our parent and receive them from children. For others of us it’s a hard day because a relationship with a child or parent is difficult, or we’ve lost a child or parent. Every mention of the day can pour salt into a wound. Today I’m encouraging you to do two things. The first is to process your own feelings about the day before the throne of grace. Before you go out and “do the right thing” or fall apart when you least expect it, take time to talk to God about what you’re feeling and receive His comfort and direction. Even if you expect it to be a good day, you’ll want to receive His counsel on how to give or receive honor.
The second thing I encourage you to do is plan how to instruct the kids in your life regarding this day. If you are married, and past special Days have been disappointing, kindly ask your spouse to help instruct the children for you. If you are not married, you might want to ask a friend to put a bug in the ear of your children. Look around and notice your single parent friends and help their children know what to do. Kids need instruction in every area of life, including showing honor. They might hear of the day and be aware, but they are children, so they forget, and need help from the other parent or friend to be prepared. Teach them that words of encouragement are the best gift, so a handmade card made the day before would be really treasured. Remind them what day it is first thing in the morning since they don’t have other means of remembering, and it’s fun to make a first-thing-in-the-morning clamor regarding the special day and parent.
Some parents are going to be completely forgotten on the special Sunday. They will knock themselves out getting kids to church, while not having had any recognition that morning. Those parents would receive needed encouragement if their children emerged from children’s church with something in hand for them. Perhaps you can be that encourager by teaching their kids.
For their words of encouragement, teach kids to focus on two things: gratitude and affirmation. Gratitude is the easier one because kids should be able to think of all the things their parent does for them, list as many as possible and thank the parent for doing them. After pondering all these things that the parent does for them, the second part, affirmation, becomes easier. Help kids think about what kind of character qualities a person would have in order to do all those things. Help them say thank you for exhibiting those specific character qualities. This is a really important step. Although no mom would be disappointed to hear that her child thinks she’s pretty and gives good gifts, affirmation should be focused on character. Character is the result of godly choices and we all need to learn to affirm godly character in others.
Showing honor to parents isn’t just something that should be done for the sake of a parent, it’s something that should be done for the sake of children. God promises children that if they honor their parents, God will give them a special blessing. As the parent, it can feel awkward to tell a child, “honor me, because God commands you to do it.” After all, we want to demonstrate humility, not set an example of someone who seeks honor. So, the best approach is to help children see you honoring YOUR parents. Tell them what you are doing, and why. If they’re old enough, you could add information about why it might be hard for you to do this, but how you are choosing to act in obedience to God’s command and in faith to God’s promise. Explain that no parent on this earth is perfect, but they should be honored anyway. This is setting an example of grace. There are situations where a parent is so very unhealthy relationally, there has to be boundaries, but you can still find ways to show honor and explain to your children what you are doing. And that brings us back to my original encouragement to spend time with God seeking his comfort and counsel on how to handle Mother’s and Father’s Days. These special days are an opportunity to help us focus on teaching kids how to honor well.
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