Faith & Acceptance in a Transition

“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.'”

– Genesis 4:6-7 NIV

From God’s discourse with Cain, we can see that the need for acceptance has been around since the days of Cain and Abel. In fact, Adam and Eve hid in shame and fear of God after eating the forbidden fruit, not believing they were acceptable to God anymore because of what they had done. God covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness as an expression of His acceptance, but they encountered the consequences of their actions in eating the forbidden fruit. God was expressing to Cain His desire to demonstrate favor towards Cain, but Cain was not accepting of what God required in order to be, feel, favored by God. Cain ignored God’s instruction on doing what was right, in order to be favored, and God’s warning of the consequence of not changing his disposition that caused him to be rejected and it led to the murder of his brother Abel.

Both Cain and Abel were accepted by God, but only one of them encountered His favor (intimate personal special/expression of grace from God). Even after murdering Abel, Cain received God’s grace and mercy, but he was a wanderer and received a mark to prevent other’s from harming him due to what he did to Abel. Cain wandered through life, burdened with the guilt of the murder of his brother, banished from encountering the personal favor of God in an intimate relationship with Him, simply because he refused to adhere to God’s instruction of doing what was right.

During a transition, our children can begin to carry unnecessary burdens of guilt that they’re to blame for the transition, they’re unloved, or the fear of being rejected by either or both parents. During the transition, their grief over what has occurred may cause them to get ‘stuck’ in some habit or behavior that inhibits them from doing what is right. Shrouded by the reality of the world they have entered into due to the transition, as Adam and Eve entered into the darkness of the reality of their circumstances by eating the forbidden fruit, children need the validation of acceptance to remind them they are loved and the circumstances that have created the transition are not their fault. They need to know that though they may be struggling to do what is right they are still accepted.

Acceptance validates that I am significant, valued and special as an individual. Cain was already accepted by God, but Cain did something that was not acceptable to God and God expressed to Cain to change his ways, but Cain ignored God and things got worse. Cain wanted God’s favor, that Abel received, without doing what was right. During a transition, a child may act out, engaged in not doing what is right still seeking favor for doing wrong. They need to know they’re still accepted, but favor comes with doing what is right. Rewarding negative behavior only reinforces poor choices.

God used the promised land to inspire hope in His children and hold them accountable to doing what was right as He led them through the wilderness of their transition from slavery to their destiny. Instilling within our children a sense of mission, purpose and vision will go a long way in helping them experience acceptance and favor consistently as they grow. Establishing clear, specific rules, rituals and routines provides structure, order and influences self-discipline. In spite of the transition, my children, both, have consistently maintained honor roll status with my daughter attaining straight A’s the past 2 school years. Both have encountered lapses emotionally, mentally and academically due to the stress of the transition and the rigor of school, but they have persevered bringing low grades in their 5th (daughter) and 3rd grades (son, now 4th) to A’s. Let’s instill resiliency within our children with acceptance!

May God bless you and help you experience His acceptance and favor to share with those you love during your transition towards resiliency.

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Use the 5 A’s when Communicating during the Transition

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

– I John 3:18 NIV

The 5 A’s are part of the suggested strategies of effective classroom management published in a textbook for classroom teachers by author Dr. Linda Albert titled Cooperative Discipline. Cooperative Discipline is a compilation of research based factors, skills and strategies employed by classroom teachers and school community employees who work with children provided to empower teachers, staff and students, along with parents, to develop a hands-joined approach in creating a harmonious classroom/home environment facilitated with mutual respect and cooperation. The 5 A’s are acceptance, affection, affirmation, appreciation and attention. I always believed, after being introduced to Cooperative Discipline as a classroom teacher, that if the strategies suggested for the 5 A’s worked on children who aren’t mine, how much more would they work for the parents of children.

To me, the 5 A’s are love in action. Just as I Corinthians 13 creates an explicit definition for us of what love is (Love is patient and kind, etc.) and I John reminds us that saying ‘I love you,’ and expressing love is two separate concepts of love, the 5 A’s provides steps by which love can be expressed that reinforces the love within the relationship between the parent and their child, or children. Jesus explained to His disciples that one who encounters a person who is willing to lay his life down for the other is a great expression of love. A child, or children, who has a parent, or parents, who consistently humble themselves and take moments out of the mundane of the day to express sincere actions of love, like hug breaks, encounter the great love Jesus talked about with His disciples. The act of laying one’s life down for another begins with humility and ends with sacrifice. Someone who looks not only to their own interests, but also to the interest of others. It is a deliberate action with the intent to build up the other and make a positive contribution into their life without expecting anything in return for the investment made.

During a transition, this could be difficult sometimes, because parent’s minds are occupied with stress, duress and anxiety and how to solve the many challenges faced in dealing with one’s own grief, financial pressures, job security, and other related adult matters that the child, or children can sometimes be inadvertently overlooked. It is safe to say that, during a transition, parents can benefit from the 5 A’s too. Transition or no transition, everyone can benefit from the 5 A’s like everyone could use a hug break! 🙂

Do my children, or my child, feel secure in being accepted for who they are?

When was the last time they received genuine affection from me?

Do I communicate words that affirm them in who they are in a positive way consistently?

What has my child, children done lately, consistently, that they should be appreciated for?

How often do I take time to invest with them centered around what interests them that expresses to them I am giving them my undivided attention?

It is never too late to start lavishing our children with a heavy dosage of 5 A’s, because these are legitimate human needs we never outgrow. Recently, as we were leaving out to celebrate my son’s birthday with other family members, my daughter chose to leave her math textbook she recently received after I expressed my desire for us to share this time as a family. She was insistent before we left with a repetitive barrage of pleases to take it, but understanding she would have to leave it in the car once we entered the home of her aunt and uncle, she resigned to leave it behind. I thanked her for making the choice to leave it to reinforce my appreciation for her making the choice to share her time and attention in celebrating her brother’s birthday with the family. My mother has watched me in action with my children and affirms me in my parenting sharing with others her appreciation of how she sees me using a soft tone consistently when correcting and encouraging my children during challenging moments of misconduct. Along with hug breaks, let’s revolutionize the world around us with the 5 A’s!

May God bless you and help you make use of His wisdom, patience and love to build up your family as you transition towards resiliency.