Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Importance of Encouragement

You know that supporting your kids -- financially, emotionally, logistically -- is an important part of parenthood. But have you ever pondered the importance of support to parents?

Parenting isn't easy. Life with four active, free-thinking sons is three-quarters chaos and one-quarter conflict, with the occasional cuddle thrown in for good measure. Don't get me wrong: they're good kids, and I'm a pretty good mom. But as you well know, parenting is continual process. You can't just tell your son, "Please be quiet in church" once and expect that he'll abide by that directive for the rest of his life. You have to say it again and again and again. You have to be willing to go to church on a semi-consistent basis with less-than-willing children. You have to somehow model restraint and proper behavior when what you really want to do is throttle the three-foot high person next to you. And you need to be prepared to issue consequences for unacceptable behavior, even though you know that stating said consequence will result in a brief escalation of an already unpleasant situation.

I get tired just typing it.

Friday night was one of THOSE NIGHTs in our household. We'd gone to a 4H dinner, a casual event attended by many sponsors of 4H -- many of whom just happen to be elderly people. And my boys were, well, boys. They laughed loudly. They got up and down off their chairs. They told fart jokes. They got into squabbles with one another that required re-direction. But in the midst of all that, our county director leaned over to me and said (with a smile on her face!), "I just love your boys' enthusiasm!"

Is it any wonder we love 4H?

Today, in church, a similar incident: Instead of commenting on my younger boys' constant trips to the bathroom or Boy #4's slight meltdown during the second half of church, the pastor complimented ME. "I think it's so great that you come to church with four boys," she said. She knows it's not easy, but recognized my effort, and that made me feel, well, proud.

Parenthood can, at times, seem like a thankless slog. We can spend days (weeks!) without any measurable forward progress. So it means the world -- at least to me -- when another parent compliments my parenting or recognizes my efforts.

This week, I ask you to remember the importance of encouragement. I want you to reach out to other parents around you -- to your friends, your neighbors, even the woman on the bus next to you -- and offer some kind words. Then come back here and tell me about your experience. I can't wait to hear from you!


  1. So true! I've been on both sides of this, and those encouraging words are gold to a mom. And as a mom, what a great lesson for our sons, to see their mom encouraging someone else. I like it!!

  2. Thanks for this. I've overlooked it myself, but everyone can use a little positive reinforcement -- not just the kids. Way to go!

  3. Here's what I've done so far: Responded to a mom-distress call on Facebook with encouraging words. Plus, I also make it a point to smile at other parents who are dealing with their kids. That smile of understanding can make all the difference!

  4. This is so true. Even just a bit of parenting encouragement goes a long way. Parenting is tough...we need all the help we can get!

  5. Just reading this has given me some encouragement - thanks. Even though I know logically that my boy's behavior is normal, I think I need to read more about boys to keep myself encouraged and sane!

  6. Oh, I hear you! The boys and I just returned home from dinner a friend's house, and I think it was good for ALL of us to see that her kids get in occasional trouble too.