Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Another heartache from the world – the stories I continue to read about children being abused at home, at school, by family and friends, suffering severe injuries, sometimes fatal. There are so many cases of senseless behaviors from adults and even older children. My heart can no longer carry this weight. I attempt to avoid the news as much as possible. Most times, I can’t continue to read. I can’t bear the imagines conjured up through detailed descriptions. I can’t do it… As a mother, my heart aches – it tears me apart to see a child hurting for any reason.
Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Children are our blessings. My little one tells me every day, “Do you know how much I love you, mami? I love you to Jesus and back!” with his arms out stretched as if he could actually reach the heavens with his little arms. That’s a lot of love! My heart swells and my throat tightens every time. To think I’m such a mess, the mistakes I make every day and yet this little thing of mine sees nothing but the best in me. And if he sees a mistake, he sure doesn’t condemn me for it. He loves me just the same. What a beautiful heart!
While I’m giving you an example of my own little one, every child’s heart and mind is just like this. They are so loving, kind, honest, pure, forgiving, and so much more. They’re also sensitive and fragile. We have to be careful with our little ones; careful not to do things that can be damaging to their self-esteem, damaging to their little hearts and minds. And as much as we want to keep our own little ones safe, we have a responsibility to make sure children everywhere are safe as well.
Proverbs 11:17 A man who is kind benefits himself [and others], but a cruel man hurts himself [and others] – my quote in brackets.
There’s a difference in being frustrated and being aggressive. How many times have you gone somewhere and have seen a frustrated parent or a child upset? Yes, as parents we have so many responsibilities and sometimes the day can become overwhelming. Sometimes we lose our cool and maybe raise our voices and some even spank their children. But where is the line between discipline and abuse? How can you recognize when you may be crossing the line or when you see another parent crossing the line? No one is perfect but abuse is never ok.
Children are dependent on others to defend them because they cannot defend themselves. Stand up for them. Some children are afraid to speak up because they’re embarrassed or maybe have even been threatened to keep silent. You must be able to discern when something is not right and you have to stand up whether you think you may be right or wrong. You’ll never know, if you stay silent – and the child may never have a chance because of your silence.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
Never rough-house a child. Never think it’s ok to “toughen them up” or “teach them how to fight”. These aren’t things children have a need to become or be taught and this is also where danger comes in. If you truly want to “toughen them up and teach them how to fight” then teach them how to love, how to forgive, how to let go, how to turn the other cheek, how to get along with one another, etc. These are qualities of a true fighter: learning how to be peaceful in the middle of chaos.
Adults and grown children aren’t always aware of their strength and a small child can be hurt so easily, even causing permanent damage or leading to a fatality. Never ever allow another person to be rough with your child for any reason, and never allow another child to do this to someone else. That kind of behavior can severely injure or kill a child. We cannot allow this kind of behavior in our homes, the homes of loved ones, or even with strangers.
Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
A spanking should never be hard enough to leave a mark of any kind. If you’re going to use spanking as a form of discipline, you should never spank a child anywhere other their bottom and you have to be mindful of the weight of your own hands. Be careful never to hit their backs – this can cause kidney failure or explosion. Never spank them anywhere else and never use objects. There are countless places on a child’s body that could be seriously damaged or lead to death. Be mindful and keep love in your heart – do not allow anger or frustration to run things for you.
Spanking should be an absolute last resort, if used at all. There are so many other ways to discipline children such as time out, taking away toys, TV or other electronics, etc. Our focus should be to speak with our children first. Get them to understand why you are saying what you’re saying. Tell them in a way that’s appropriate for their age and have them explain to you that they understand the better/safer choice. When a child can understand the “why’s” they are more likely to follow along because they are now reasoning. They can see why something is dangerous or inappropriate. Redirect behaviors, such as encouraging them to create art, dance or sing, read or do something that will help them to learn or master a skill.
Each child has their own personality that God has given them and we need to make sure that we are encouraging positive behaviors; help them to use their characteristics for good causes. Ask yourself, whether it applies to you or to someone else, family, friends or even a stranger: Is what I/they have just said emotionally damaging to the child? Can my/their words cause the child to lose confidence, feel unloved or less valuable than what they really are? In what ways can I teach discipline without using physical actions or speaking aggressively?
James 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
You cannot be afraid to speak up when you see something wrong. Are you reluctant to say something to a parent or guardian because of how they might react toward you? Imagine how the child feels. Maybe they need to hear someone speak up so that they can rethink their actions. I’m not telling you to be overly aggressive or put yourself in danger, for example in the case of an extremely irate parent. But you can pull out your phone, call 911 and video or voice record whatever you can.
Maybe there is a neighbor that you don’t want to deal with because they seem to be so irrational and angry all the time. Imagine what could be going on inside that house. You don’t have to investigate on your own but you need to send someone who can and will, such as local law enforcement officers or even child protective services, if need be – and don’t be afraid to do it more than once if you see the need. It’s best to know the child is safe, than to do nothing and have a child damaged or deceased.
Please, be loving and kind to all the children in and around your life. They are our greatest responsibility in all the world. They need to know that they are important and loved, a blessing not a burden. Let’s love them and protect them by all means. God bless you all.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Prayer: My Lord, I thank you for the beautiful blessing of all the children in my life and around me. I vow to always be kind, loving and supportive of all of them. I vow to treat these little ones as the kings and queens that they are and I promise to always be patient, graceful and merciful with each of them. Help me, my Lord, to see their beautiful qualities and to learn how to encourage their strengths and turn any weakness into a strength they can use to benefit their lives and spirits. Show me how to be the example that our Lord Jesus Christ is for us. Guide me in the role you have created me for. May I have the courage to speak up if I see or suspect harm against a child. May I never forget that the little children belong to You and not to world. May Your loving, kind, heavenly angels surround them in their comings and goings. I plead the Psalm 91 hedge of protection upon them. May this new generation of children and the others that follow, be blessed abundantly and filled with your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ loving name, I pray, Amen*
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