Thursday, August 20, 2009

For love

I love my kids. I adore them. They are my pride, my joy, my honor and my life.

Despite these clear feelings, I still struggle with letting them clearly know that I feel that way about them. Couple that with times I'm tired, cranky or angry and now you have significant communication problems. How can they see through that haze I put in front of them?

I have a very different personality with my daughter Lana. On the most basic level I'm a extreme extrovert compared to her. She thinks about things way more than I do - and internalizes more than I think I ever did at her age.

Ive worried more than once that I fail to communicate my love to her - that she wont come through her childhood with memories of a Dad who loved her. And Ive mentioned before the beliefs I have on the ways that can effect a child on their belief and acceptance of God.

But an opportunity arose recently for me to score, I believe, big time. While savagely (and with great prejudice I may add) consuming a 12 pack of hot wings, I suddenly heard my darling Lana crying. As I turned round wiping the hot sauce from my mouth, I she started telling my how sad it was that I was eating animals, that they we special to God too. (Lana is a vegetarian through personal conviction over this subject)

And that's when I said it.

"Lana is it really that important to you? If it is, then I will stop eating meat, because YOUR feelings are more important to me than MY food."

Ok that's not as inspirational as I would like it to be, maybe even a bit cheesy. Those of you who know me though, will appreciate the magnatude of my food related decision.

But in truth, isn't that what its all about? Isn't our sacrificial love the most demonstrative?

So I might still mess up in my communication with my kids, but at least now, my prayer is when Lana is older, a teenager, an adult - whenever she is feeling a low sense of worth; she will have at least one thing she will recall; that to her daddy - her thoughts, her feelings, her very personality - they are SO important to me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Positive reinforcement...

I returned on Monday from a vacation that almost never happened. (Read about it on my wife's blog here). When we started out our flights had to be redirected. Its so busy on the airlines these days that its unavoidable for them to be overbooked. Our check in assistant was under a tremendous amount of stress trying to fix our, and many others, flight issues. As she started feeding me the bad news, I began telling her how much I appreciated her making the effort to try and fix this. It was really hard not to get emotional about it - being told that your not going to get to Disney etc - but realizing it was not her fault and that she was trying her best, I continually reminded her how my whole family were appreciative of the job she was doing.

Of course, the people standing next to me had engaged in mortal combat with their assistant.

Our check-in assistant kept going and going - trying this avenue, calling this manager - and eventually - result! All the time, I made sure to let her know how appreciated she was. And praise God! - her efforts really did pay off - she kept going for us even though there were so many opportunities for her not to care.

This was an amazing positive outcome compared to where we thought it would go. But, if I am to be honest with myself, choosing the path of encouraging rather than criticizing is not something that I think comes as naturally to me as it should.

I'm left thinking these questions of myself, thinking how it really helped to be thanking and encouraging the check-in assistant.... do I build up or destroy with my words? Do I make a point of telling my children how good they are or do I only react to the bad? Do I daily seek to edify my wife with what I say to her?

And most importantly, how does God relate to me in this way? Shouldn't I be having His attitude ALL the time? Knowing the positive reinforcement that He gives me through his words, through his revelation, what right do I have to criticize?

I find it so easy to type, and so difficult to put in practice.