Building up

Not long ago the telephone rang and, recognising the number, I realised it was a call from our school.  I’m sure most parents will appreciate that sinking feeling before answering as they wonder if someone is ill or hurt but I was relieved that the call turned out to be about something pretty trivial which was easily dealt with.  The call ended in a lovely way, with the form teacher telling me what an amazing boy my son is, how much all the children in his class love him, how they see him as their mascot and take delight in looking out for him … in our secondary school form classes are vertical which means that there are children from each year group in the same class … I think it’s a brilliant arrangement and I’m thankful that it’s working out so well.

Anyone who knows me will know that I’m immensely proud of my sons, all three of them.  I think they’re amazing boys who take the difficulties they have with life and do their very best to work round them.  I constantly try to reassure my lads that there is nothing they can’t do … their route may be different to some other peoples’ but they can do anything at all.

This year has been incredibly difficult for my oldest son.  He’s faced the transition from primary to secondary education including uncertainty (pretty much right up until the end of primary school) about which secondary school he would go to.  He’s taken everything in his stride, adapted to the changes with seeming ease and is loving the challenges and adventures that his new school is offering him.  He’s embracing the extra-curricular activities and has joined a variety of clubs (variety being the key word!) and is smiling and chatting to everyone he meets.  He’s amazing!

Today’s subject has been encouragement.  This is one of my favourite subjects as I’ve got a real bee in my bonnet about encouragement and how often we choose to exercise our gifts of discouragement rather than practising the art of encouraging and building each other up.

As with any parent there have been many times I’ve had to rebuke my children but I make a point of telling the boys that what they’ve done has been bad or wrong rather than telling them that they’re bad or wrong themselves.  How easily we can give children a confused image of themselves if we tell them they’re bad when they do something naughty and then tell them they’re good if they do the right thing.  I’ve always focussed on the act being naughty or good rather than the person … I’m not sure if that makes any sense but, in my head, it’s clear as crystal!  Apologies if I’m rambling 😉

Years ago I read an article which suggested trying to give two positives for every negative.  That’s fine in theory but, in practice, it’s not always so easy.  I don’t mean that it’s hard to find two positives but rather that the situation doesn’t always allow for that practice.  However, I’ve made a point of praising my children for something every day, it’s pretty easy as I’ve been given the gift of amazing children who give me many occasions to praise them.  I’ve always made a point of telling the boys that I’m grateful they’re in my life and I’ve often prayed with them (as well as privately) thanking God for them.  I have to balance that by admitting that there have also been many occasions when I’ve cried out to God for the strength to carry on and be the Mum that he wants me to be and there have been more than a few occasions when I’ve felt like throwing in the towel and feeling convinced that I made a mistake thinking I could ever be a half-decent parent.

Today’s dare is a cinch however … I’ve to commit to mention positive attributes to each of my children every day for the next week!  I can do that!  I’ll not always record them here but today I’m commending my youngest son for his helpful attitude towards other people, my middle son for overcoming his anxiety about a difficult day at school today and my oldest son for understanding and accepting that things don’t always work out the way he wants.  In innumerable ways, I’ve been blessed far beyond anything I could ever deserve and, for that, I give thanks to God.

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