I knew I needed help. Don’t we all. I was young mom, married, working full time. You could say I was stressed. I can remember mornings, heating something in the microwave, putting it in Tupperware, driving to the babysitter two blocks away and dropping my two preschool daughters off with their now cold waffles or pancakes before hastily leaving for work. That’s how my day started.
I listened to Focus On The Family regularly in the morning and the program repeated in the evening. I needed help; Focus delivered. I ordered lots of tapes. But one stood above the rest that gave me the hope and guidance I needed for young children. Called Families That Succeed, Jay Kessler discussed what worked in families. Hmmmm. That really grabbed my attention as I had a strong desire for our family to thrive.
I listened and paid attention as Jay jokingly related humorous stories from his own experience about cultivating respect and love in families. The story I remember best was about a little guy who challenged his parents. Jay’s counsel was that they tell him that he was God’s gift to their family. In a few weeks the family’s challenges with the little guy diminished. Or else his parents really did believe that he was God’s gift to them. The family bond was strengthened.
As my daughters grew up I implemented this strategy by concluding our prayers with “Thank You, God for giving me this little girl.” I prayed with them on a regular basis about three times a week, depending on the schedule. There were only two times when my daughters had a fight, wanting to be put to bed first. Well, that was a high point for me because they valued one-on-one Mommy-Daughter time.
This ending to prayer, “Thank You, God for giving me this little girl” established a foundational relationship in our family and a thoroughly positive mindset as each heard this at least a thousand times growing up. They are much more confident and successful than I ever was and did not experience the shyness and lack of success that I had all my life. Moreover, my daughters actually did get along about 80% of the time. When they did fight, I threatened to get out my camera as I yelled, “Kodak moment!”
When my older daughter was about 25, she was driving on the interstate and I mentioned that we didn’t have a good week if I neglected to pray with them at least three times a week. I can still remember the look of incredulity as she kept her hands firmly (and straight) on the steering wheel and stared at me. She recalled the prayers but not the results if we didn’t pray together.
You have to fill a child’s mind with something good. Jay Kessler’s advice was some of the best I’d ever heard and I am grateful I paid attention as he guided me with Families That Succeed.