When I have tough baby days and struggle to come to terms with the fact that we are still not parents, God reminds me that we can love and cherish the babies which other people have brought into the world. My heart still aches for children of my own, but I do thank God for the children I have grown to love. Even though they do not call me Mom, I can have a positive influence on their lives just as other ladies and gentlemen had a profound effect on mine.
As we set out to bless others during this Year of Blessings, we would do well to look beyond and think of ways to bless the next generation. They need our love, support, guidance, and the value of our experience. The world we live in is not getting easier to traverse and we have something of value to impart to those who are following after us.
Here are a few ideas for how to bless the little ones in your life whether they are your children, your nieces and nephews, children you teach, or your friends’ children. I especially love number three!
- Take them to a movie! Yesterday, I joined a friend and her children for a discount movie. You cannot beat a movie and unlimited popcorn for $5! Gather up your young friends and take them to a child-friendly flick. It is a small treat they may remember forever; and even if they do not, you will. ~smile~
- Go to their house (or a park, pool, etc.) for a play date! Yesterday was a big day for me. After joining one friend and her children at a movie, I visited another friend and her two little girls. Every time I stop by, the younger daughter asks me to play – just like the older daughter did when she was little. Little Emma enjoys rousing games of hide and seek and, her new favorite, mom and bears. Mom and bears is an easy game to learn. I pretend to be a bear, I put my naughty cubs to bed, they get up and scamper off, and then I have to find them and put them back to bed. ~smile~ You do not have to be a master entertainer to get giggles out of small children. They just want your attention.
- Write a book of blessings. I absolutely love this idea. It is something which would require consistency (which is not easy for me); yet, if it is maintained, it could be an incredible keepsake for the children in your life. You can be creative with this. Purchase an attractive journal for each child. You can write prayers for them on their birthdays. You can write in it whenever the mood strikes you. You can write in it as you notice their character forming (e.g., “I was proud of you today when you chose to tell the truth.” “Yesterday, you took up for a bullied child on the playground, and I am so thankful you are learning to do justly.”) How would you feel receiving a completed journal like this from an adult in your life? If I had one, it would be a prized possession; something I would grab if the house were on fire.
- Be a mentor and listen, listen, listen! When I was a teenager, I briefly taught the kindergarten Sunday school class at my church. As I struggle with procrastination, I would often throw my lesson together on Sunday morning. Mom, a seasoned elementary school teacher, said something that has stuck with me to this day. She said, “Just because they are short does not mean they are less important.” Ouch, Mom! She was right. Children are every bit as important as adults and they are the future. As an adult, I still adore the people who regarded me as worthwhile when I was a child. You can make a profound difference by being available and listening.
- Pray with them. Miss Betty did not do it every time I visited, but she did pray with me on occasion, and I know she prayed for It makes an impression on children when grownups stop and pray for them. This act not only communicates love to the child, but it models the importance of seeking the Lord first in all situations (Matthew 6:33).
- Make them laugh! There is nothing sweeter than the sound of innocent laughter. When I was at Walmart a few years ago, I heard a child laughing on the next aisle. It made me smile and brightened my heart. Suddenly, the child’s mother scolded him and told him to hush. Laughter is God’s gift and, though parents have to teach children when and where laughter is appropriate, it should be encouraged. Whether it is tickles, silly jokes, puppet shows, or reading books with funny voices, bless a child by encouraging laughter. It will bless you too!
- Create fun memories. My friend’s sister lives out of state, but when she comes to visit, she plans special dates for her and her nieces. Whether it is going to get a cupcake, a trip to the park, or something completely out of the ordinary, she makes the most of her time with them – and they adore her! Someday, she will probably be one of their closest friends and most trusted confidants.
Some days, I feel less valuable as a woman for not having experienced the joy and milestone of bearing children; but, when I am sober-minded, I remember that I can still be a powerful influence, confidant, mentor, and someday, friend, to the young people I have the privilege to know and bless.
How can you and your sweetheart bless the children in your church, family, neighborhoods, and communities? What do you enjoy that you can enjoy with children? Personally, I have loved children’s books since I was tiny. Even when I grew old enough to read chapter books, I still preferred Berenstain Bears and Dr. Seuss. So, when we visit our friends and their children for Friday night pizza, I am typically the one to suggest, “Hey, guys, do you want me to read you a story?” (It might even be more fun for me than for them.) It is something I enjoy that I get to share with them. What about you? Do you have a favorite sport or game you can teach? Do you enjoy baking and have room in your kitchen for a few extra hands?
We challenge you to bless the little folks in your life no matter how busy you get or how drained you feel. Few people ever regret pouring their time and energy into children.
“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 19:13-14, ESV).
How will you and your boyfriend or girlfriend be a blessing to the children you love?