I used to worry a little about that boy.
I mean, it couldn’t be easy being born right after our special-needs little girl. She required so much looking after and so much of our extra care. She depends on us for quite a few of her needs.
And I didn’t want him to suffer for it (difficult words for a mom to write).
But I see now that I needn’t have worried because God knew all along. He knew that this would turn out to be a blessing more than a burden to that young man. God knew that this would be an opportunity for him to learn to be considerate of those who are weaker, smaller, or poorer than himself. Such a sweet and precious lesson for anyone to learn, don’t you think? I want all our children to have that kind of heart for others.
But you don’t have to have a special sister to become tenderhearted. You can teach tenderness to your children in many different ways:
Tenderhearted is more a character quality than a personality trait. While some children seem naturally more “sensitive” than others, this doesn’t mean we can’t teach thoughtfulness to all our children. And, yes, it is something that needs to be taught – just like we’d teach honesty and obedience.
For example, “My child, did you know that we need to have compassion on him or her? We’ve been given so much and God wants us to be mindful of others with less. What are some ways you can bless that other person?”
Tenderhearted should be demonstrated as well as taught. My children need to experience my tenderness toward themselves, as well as watch me in action toward others. While I wouldn’t want to make a big “show” of such things, it does help if I quietly explain what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
For example, “I’m helping Sissy get a drink of water because, you see, she can’t do that for herself like you and I can. And I can get you one too, if you’d like?”
Tenderhearted means giving your children a chance to think of others. So don’t do it for them. Often we moms have this impulse to serve everyone around us – and so deprive our children from the blessing to get to experience it for themselves. Make sure they have the opportunity to help others.
For example, while I could take care of all of Sissy’s needs myself; the real loving thing to do is to give her brothers and sisters the chance to look after some of her care too. “Do you think that your sister would like to play baseball with you? What can you do to help her play along with everyone else?”
The more this tenderness is taught and experienced in your home, the more natural it becomes for your child. While it doesn’t necessarily happen “automatically”, it can grow into a normal part of your family culture and spread to the others all around you.
What a beautiful gift you can give your children! A tender heart for others.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted…(Eph. 4:32a)
So what are some of the ways that you teach your children to be tenderhearted? I always appreciate hearing the unique ways each family goes about it!
In His grace,
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