by J. Otis and Gail Ledbetter
Affectionate interaction with children, toddlers to adolescents, is important throughout each day. But the most important moments, I believe, are the way you wake up children in the morning, and how you put them to bed at night.
Starting the Day-Awakening
Waking my children was one of my favorite times of day. When our two oldest were small, they shared a room. About ten minutes or so before I wanted them to get up, I would turn over the Ethel Barrett LP to which they fell asleep listening the night before. It was usually a story with some good music or a cassette: "Down By the Creek Bank" or "The Music Machine" that taught the fruits of the Spirit. (Does that bring back memories, or what?) Once they had come out of a deep sleep and were dozing with eyes closed, I would sit on their beds, rub their backs, and slide my hand down the side of their faces. I'd softly say, "It's time to get up. Today your class is going to the science fair." They were soon ready to get out of bed. I heard them say many times how it made an impression on them to wake up feeling loved, secure, and looking forward to the day.
With Matt and Becky, I was more or less just feeling my way. I got intentional with our youngest, who came along nine years after Becky. In the winter months, I still go into fifteen-year-old Leah's room early and turn over her music cassette. I may light her fragrance candle, raise her window shade a few inches, or turn on a low-watt bulb. She enjoys waking up slowly, and knows that she doesn't have to get up until I come in again. About ten minutes later, I return with hot chocolate or another beverage. I rub her face, and she always smiles before she opens her eyes (like her older sister). She usually hugs my hand by scrunching up her shoulder. She has even kissed my hand. All of this may take only five minutes, but I can't think of anything more valuable. Because each child knows he or she is loved, this short ritual has rid our home of countless arguments, retorts, moodiness, and ungrateful attitudes. It starts the day off on an affectionate note.
Ending the Day-Bedtime
Reading together is the last thing I did with the children after brushing teeth and other hygiene rituals. We always read from beautifully-illustrated books when the children were young. (We have every book that artist Tasha Tudor has ever done.) As they grew older, lights could stay on and they read on their own if they chose to. Our routine wasn't a compulsion; we never read on Sunday or when they had a long or difficult day. Bedtime was not allowed to be a battleground or an exercise of wills. Instead, the day ended peacefully and contentedly-and intentionally. The children looked forward to bedtime, were not plagued with fears, and I'm sure were able to rest better than if bedtime had been difficult.
Once the children were happily in bed, I could get some work done! My energy level was not sapped by emotional wrangling. I could focus on creative things, not rehearse angry feelings. My kids were not perfect, and neither was I. We had some difficult nights at times, but arguing about waking up and bedtimes was not a way of life. Parents can choose to live in chaos and frustration, and can choose to act as though they can't do anything about it. Doesn't family strife just seem like such a waste of time? Instead of the contemporary saying, "The Force is strong in my family," let the children be able to say to their friends, "The force of Love is strong in my family."
Affection is only one of the Family Fragrances in the Heritage Builders Tool Chest. There are five key qualities to a healthy family fragrance, AROMA:
The sweet AROMA of the Family Fragrance will help you to intentionally create an environment of love in your home.
Excerpt from Heritage Builders: Family Fragrance by J. Otis and Gail Ledbetter,
Chariot Victor Publishing. J. Otis Ledbetter is senior pastor of Chestnut Baptist Church
in Clovis, California, and chairman of the Heritage Builders Association.
He co-authored The Heritage with Kurt Bruner. Gail Hover Ledbetter teaches at
Clovis Christian High, is a women's ministry leader, and speaks at seminars and conferences.
Used by permission.