How to speak life into our children’s gifts

How many times do you criticise your child in a day? And how many times do you affirm them?

I did that test myself one day and didn’t do great. I affirmed all the kids that day, but only once each.

But when it came to criticism, or nagging, or complaining, I did it to all three kiddos…multiple times. (Okay, I admit I lost count.)

“Vera, why is your room always so untidy?”
“JJ, why do you take so long to come when I call?”
“Eeks, Josh, you’re such a mess!”

And I asked myself “Why is it so easy to point out their flaws and faults, and so hard to acknowledge their good sides?”

Today’s kids face performance-related pressures more than ever before. We expect them to do well in school, finish their homework on time, be a shining example to their siblings, help their younger siblings, the list goes on.

What is the result of a high-stress, fast-paced, and overly critical environment?

Highly stressed out and anxious children.

And are they getting enough love and support from us? I think that receiving unconditional love and acceptance in the home is an antidote to the world’s burgeoning mental health problem.

Do we accept them for who they are, mess, quirks, tantrums and all?

Are we ready to forgive and give grace when they make mistakes?

Are we generous with our time, love, words of praise and affirmation, and most importantly our presence?

The word for me this season? Delight in my children.

They may frustrate you. They may defy or turn a deaf ear to your instructions. Their untidiness may drive you up the wall.

But take pleasure in them. Rejoice over them. Remember they are God’s gifts to us. Remember that He finds great joy in them, as He does too in us.

Sometimes I think I express so much disdain that they may feel like they’re not good enough. Now that’s a really scary thought.

How can we express our infinite joy in our children and make it known to them?

1. Practice unconditional love. Let your children know they are loved, regardless of how well or poorly they perform in school or in their chosen sports/hobbies.

2. Use affirming words: You are God’s wonderful gift to me. You are my precious son/daughter. You are beautiful not just on the outside but on the inside, because you are loving and kind to others.

3. Be curious. When asking about their day, replace the question “Any homework?” with “How was your day?” or “Who did you have recess with?” or “What was the best /worst part of today?”

4. Write them little love /encouraging notes.

5. Practise restoration. End off any discipline or confrontation with “I may be angry because I don’t like this behaviour…but I still love you.”

6. Be a great listener. When they are sharing about a funny or exciting story, give them the time of day and your full presence.

7. Lavish them with hugs and kisses.

8. Spend time with them. For 30 minutes a day, log off all devices and tune into their hearts.

As we put aside a critical spirit and put on an affirming spirit, we may begin to see a different side to our children.

When we focus on their strengths and speak life into their gifts, they will learn that they are worthy and have unique talents to offer the world.

“See a child differently, you see a different child.” – Dr Stuart Shanker

see a child differently

Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas, or what a man needs most from his wife

I remember walking by a bookshelf at a Christian bookstore, and this book by Gary Thomas shouted out at me: “Sacred Influence: What a man needs from his wife to be the husband she wants”. (This was a few years back when I had just got married, and was still figuring my way around.)

“This should be interesting,” I thought as I paid for the book, “it might just help me to change my man.” (Well, how many of us wouldn’t mind some tweaking and fine-tuning of our husbands? To be more romantic? More sensitive to our needs? A better listener?)

After reading the book, I realised how frivolous I was in thinking that, and how immature…If anything, the author’s intention was for me to change my attitude first. While marriage is about unconditionally accepting our spouse, there are also some circumstances that require real long-term changes to be made.

In a nutshell:

Women are designed by God to be a powerful influence on our husbands. However, we need to first understand a few things:

1. Change begins from me. And I can aim to be the best wife that he could ever have.

2. A man respects a woman who respects herself. “If you can stand strong and secure in your identity and in your relationship with Christ, courageously making it clear how you will and will not be treated, you will be amazed to see how the respect you show for yourself rubs off on your husband.”

3. A man needs affirmation and respect from his wife. These are basic ingredients to cultivate in our marriages first before we even try to motivate / influence our husbands.

4. A good marriage doesn’t happen by accident. It requires deliberate choices, sacrifice and perseverance. We need to take the initiative and start acting and changing, instead of just hoping for the best.

Some quotables from the book:

I’ll be upfront with you: you can’t change a man. But you can influence or move him – a far subtler art.


God, not your marital status or the condition of your marriage, defines your life.


You may not have realized this, but husbands like to brag about their wives. They may not say it to you, but they notice your strengths and take pride in them.


Your husband chose you as you were and accepts you as you are – but you can bless him with the woman you want to become.


Men don’t normally change if what they’ve been doing seems to be working for them. When a woman allows her husband to treat her with disrespect, he has no motivation to change – and so it’s unlikely he ever will.


The typical man remains unmoved by power plays or criticism or by a wife who disrespects him. He’s moved by a wife who lets him lead and then helps him get where he wants to go.


…it might surprise you to learn that when dozens of men filled out a recent survey, listing how they wish their wives would love them, not a single one mentioned a desire for their wife to lose weight. About half of them, however, expressed a desire for their wives to cultivate a different attitude toward sexual intimacy – a comfortableness with sex and their bodies, the willingness to be emotionally engaged, initiating, enthusiastic.


Because success and achievement play such a vital role in a man’s sense of well-being, we men tend to have a greater fear of failure, and even insecurity, than most women would ever guess.”


When you consistently, persistently, and creatively affirm your husband, you remove one of the most compelling reasons for him to get overinvolved at work or to find an escapist hobby that robs his passion for home.


I challenge you: if you really want to move your man, begin by praying this prayer: “Lord, how can I help my husband today?


I think the book really helped me to understand my man better. It’s also helped me to take responsibility for my marriage and know the influence that I have, and be able to use it for the benefit of my husband.

What do you think your man needs most from you?

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