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  • Gary Probst

How to Raise Happy Children

The children pictured here have the advantage of a tremendous father. Dads matter. They matter more than most of us realize. Time and time again, I counsel adults who have been deprived the benefit of a kind and loving father. What makes children happy, confident and secure? The answer is elevation, by both mother and father. If the father situation is not possible, a caring male figure can also help. In this situation, Dan's kids are fortunate to have him in their lives.

Positive feedback and loving concern give children the sense of things being alright in the world, regardless of what happens outside the home. A disapproving mother or a demanding and controlling father are like poison to a developing mind. Unconditional love, kind thoughts and support mean everything to a child. Anger and self-hatred from the parent means the same traits passed to the child.

Multigenerational abuse is a problem in many homes. The anxiety and depression of the parent flows down to the children, making them dysfunctional in relationships for most of their lives. The snowball of pain keeps rolling down the mountain, gaining size of dysfunction with each new generation.

Multigenerational elevation is also possible. It is when the suffering parent forces themselves to choose positive over negative---kindness over cruelty---and love—always, always, over anger.

From Corinthians 13:1…….

“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails.”

Love always protects. Love always trusts. Love always carries hope and belief that we are all loved by our Heavenly Father, allowing us to pass along that love to other humans.

When you become angry with a child, consider the violence upon their psychological health. Yes, you need to correct bad behavior. Yes, you surely need to enforce decency and good citizenship. However, the correction must be made in the name of love, not anger. The old saying of “this is going to hurt me as much as it does you”, rings true for the true God-loving parent. It should hurt us to scold. It should make us sad to see the kids grounded to their room. However, if we teach with love in our hearts, the lesson is learned in a positive way.

Love your children, as your Father in heaven loves you. Live by the words of Paul’s message to the Corinthians. Rejoice in the love you feel from your father above, even if you didn’t have the love you should have felt from your earthly parents. Be confident in your love and share it openly with your children. They will learn to be confident, strong, kind and the people you hope for them to be.

I dedicate this post to my recently-departed friend, the Rev. Joe Angel Medina of Waukesha, WI. Pastor Joe was the first person to bring me to the word of Paul in the passage, above. He lived it. He loved all and is missed by literally, thousands of people. Joe was the perfect example of what a loving father can be, as he believed in the love of his father, above.

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