Summary: How we communicate our love and acceptance to our children has an everlasting impact.
First Baptist Church
May 12, 2002
I want to tell you a sad but true story that I may have shared before. It occurred about 25 years ago. My sister Susie was about to have back surgery. Susie had been divorced for a couple of years and my mom was at Susie’s home, watching her two children. My dad was at the hospital with Susie, and as they were taking her to surgery, she wanted to tell my father one thing. So, she said, "Dad, I love you." He said, "Me too." So, Susie asked him to say the words, "I love you." He would not say them. It’s really a sad story.
Can you imagine a parent not able to respond to tell their child that they are loved? That’s what happened to Susie. I have often thought about the possible outcomes in that situation, what if she had died during surgery, she would have died not knowing for certain if her father loved her. How might that have impacted my father?
Today is mother’s day. It is a day when we celebrate motherhood and really it is a time to look at how we impact the children in our lives. I’ll be honest, I don’t like to preach sermons specifically for mother’s or father’s. There are some of us who have not had the most wonderful, loving, compassionate and giving parents; and days like today bring up reminders of our pain. So, today and again on Father’s day, I want to look at the impact we can make on the lives of the children. And when I say children, I am also referring to those who have children who are in their 20’s on up to their 50’s.
I like what Paul says in these two scriptures. "Parents, don’t exasperate your children, instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."And in Colossians 3:21 Paul exhorts parents, "do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged."
Those are profound words for us parents to listen to. The word exasperate comes from the root word in Greek which literally means ‘to make one hostile towards something.’ I don’t think that is the goal of good parenting.
How we treat our children, has a profound impact on them later in life. When your child makes a mistake how do you treat them? Is it a big inconvenience for you? Do you berate them to no end and talk about how bad they are in front of them? Or do you ask them to help you clean up a mess and you work alongside of them?
I found this story on the Internet —
One Saturday morning, six year old Brandon decided to fix his parents pancakes. He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to the counter, opened a cabinet and pulled out the flour, spilling it on the floor. He scooped some of the flour into a bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and added some sugar, leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now had a few tracks left by his kitten.
Brandon was covered with flour and getting frustrated. He wanted this to be something very special for Mom and Dad, but it was going from bad to worse. He didn’t know what to do next, whether to put it all into the oven or on the stove, (and he didn’t know how the stove worked!).
Suddenly he saw his kitten licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push her away, knocking the egg carton to the floor. Frantically he tried to clean up this monumental mess but slipped on the eggs, getting his pajamas white and sticky. Just then he saw Dad standing at the door.
Big tears welled up in Brandon’s eyes. All he’d wanted to do was something good, but he’d made a terrible mess. He was sure a scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking. But his father just watched him. Then, walking through the mess, he picked up his crying son, hugged him and loved him, getting his own pajamas white and sticky in the process.
I know I wouldn’t have been very happy. Yet, how I react has an everlasting impact on my children. I have the opportunity to love that child or to belittle him. The choice is mine.
I asked many of you to answer the following question — "If you could hear your mom and your dad tell you one thing, what would you most want them to say to you?"
You need to keep in mind that most of the people who responded were adults, and only a few were in high school. Thirteen people responded that they wanted to hear a parent say "I LOVE YOU." The next highest number was 8 people who wanted to hear a parent say "I AM PROUD OF YOU." There were a few other answers, such as wanting to know that their parent was in heaven.