5 Ways to Nurture Your Children

I've written about how I was leading more of a "robotic" life by going through the motions of meeting the physical needs of my children, yet forgetting the importance of nurturing them. I've discovered 5 wonderful ways to help nurture my childrens minds and spirits (spiritual lives). And I don't necessarily think something has to be straight from the Bible for it to have a spiritual impact. Like reading a good book can be soul-nurturing [as long as the book is good, as God wants us to think on good things. Wait--that is straight from the Bible....ahem.] Moving on....

Here are some ways I've come across to be great for tying heartstrings with your children:

1. Read quality books aloud. Not only is this nurturing for the mind but for your relationship with your child. Sometimes it can be challenging to get your child to sit with you to read. If you have another child, especially a younger child, grab that child, open a book, and begin reading. You might be surprised to see your older child make their way over to listen in as well. After getting over that initial "resistance hump", reading time will be an enjoyed time with you and your children.  Some great character building books include fables, Beatrix Potter stories, books by author Thornton Burgess, and of course Bible stories.

2. Conversations--and many of them. Children ask a lot of questions. Many times I tend to push them off as insignificant. But I need to remember, though I know much of how the world works (as compared to a child) , my children don't. They are trying to understand the world they live in by asking questions. This gives me an excellent opportunity to engage in conversation. It is time well spent and much is learned. Children will value our opinions and direction more when we take the time to listen to them and answer their curiosities.

3. Share a hobby. Find something you all enjoy and pursue it together. My daughter and I share many of the same interests while my husband shares many interests with our first son. The point is to take the time to be interested in the things they are interested in. Help them foster their talents. If you don't know much about what they do like, search it out and learn! Or better yet, have your child teach you. My daughter is in ballet and I don't know a thing about the moves or what they are named. She has been teaching me. And together, we are working on a short ballet dance for her to "perform" at our church, but as surprise birthday present for her daddy. She is coming up with the dance. The only thing I'm doing is giving input and helping her remember what moves go with which part of the song. The bottom line is, we are working together, and she is being nurtured.

4. Special 1-on-1 time. In addition to spending small bursts of 1-on-1 time with each child everyday, every week, my husband or I take one child out to breakfast for their own special time. We let each child decide who they want to go with because it gives us a bit of insight to that child's greatest need. As a matter of fact, this opened my eyes quite a bit to how much my children needed me, even though I'm home with them all day. A couple of my children needed me to go to breakfast with them. I thought for certain they would choose their daddy. This has allowed me to adjust our time spent at home, to better fill their "tank".

5. Speak grace. This may be one of the most crucial aspects of nurturing [or tearing down] a child. Our words and our tone have such an impact on our children, you could not even imagine. Not only do they learn from us how to speak to others [by how we speak to them], but they learn our very hearts through our tone and words. Are we speaking in frustration? Anger? Annoyance? They know. Speaking words of grace is the best, and I mean best way to diffuse anger and create an environment of peace. The Bible speaks of this well:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

I cannot even begin to tell you how true those words are. And it helps to get to the root of our frustrations, and deal with them.

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:13

And it isn't just our face it makes cheerful, but the face of our children. It isn't just our spirits that would  be crushed, but our children's.

This list is my no means exhaustive. There are many ways to nurture our children, but they do all have one thing in common: our time. Our children see what's most valuable to us by how we spend our time.

What are some ways you nurture your children? Let's add to the list and share ideas.

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Photo credit (my lovely sister)