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Giving Your Children Roots and Wings

Providing the foundation children need.
By Jean Fleming


Under a delightful watercolor painting I read this caption: "The best thing parents can do for their children is give them roots and wings." I like that idea because I want to give our children more than survival skills—I want to give them soaring skills as well. Both "roots" and "wings" are important if our children are to develop to their full potential.

When I think of roots, I mean providing a foundation of security and stability for my children. Just as the nourishment and stability of a plant depends on its root system, so human life is sustained and stabilized by its roots.

The greatest source of nourishment I can give my children is, of course, a relationship with God Himself. As they grow "down" into God and allow the tentacles of their being to become firmly entwined with Him, they will have the best possible roots.

My relationships with God, my husband, and my children create an environment that can either help or hinder the development of this good root system for my children. A secure, loving home is the fertile ground their tender roots need.

While the depth of my children's lives is dependent on their roots, the height to which they can soar is dependent on their wings. The idea of wings connotes creativity, appreciation, laughter, and freedom.

Wings come as my children reach up to God and allow Him to set them free from the fear of others, free from self-imposed limitations, and free to become all God intended when He created them. Wings lift my children above the routine and the mundane. From this altitude they gain a fresh outlook on life, seeing above their circumstances and being sensitive to the delights of life God has given.

Our children allow us to share their wings when they call us to the window to see a spectacular sunset, or share an unusual twist of plot from the book they are reading, or go one step farther when setting the dinner table by lighting it up with candles.

When I think of giving my children wings, I think of doing "extras" beyond meeting their basic needs. I want to enrich and surprise them, stimulate and refresh them, delight and enchant them. I want them to see our home full of life because God is there.

Why go to all the trouble?

God created all of us to have these wings. Look around you. Why did God make giraffes with long legs and even longer necks? Why did He bother to put those funny little knobs on the tops of their horns? Why didn't He color them solid beige instead of painting them in a masonry pattern? Why are there golden lions, profusely colored butterflies, spotted leopards, and shimmering peacocks?

Why such diversity and beauty? Because God created us to soar with wings of imagination and appreciation. He "richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:17).

As mothers, we can tap our own creativity to enhance the development of our children's wings—so they can enjoy all that God provides.

"But I'm not very creative," you may say. You may surprise yourself. First of all, you are made in the image of God, the Creator of all. You have a creative capacity, though it may not be well developed.

Second, your commitment to your children will release the kind of creativity you need to stimulate the development of wings. If you have read Swiss Family Robinson or The Little House on the Prairie, you know how creative people can be when their survival is at stake. The families in these books coupled their personal creativity with the few resources they had to work with, and they did much more than merely survive.

Third, creativity can't be used up. Your creative "muscles" may be weak from disuse, but they can be strengthened with a little effort.

When I was an art student I became aware that the more art I created, the more ideas I had. But since my marriage I have done very little painting—and when my husband suggests I spend a relaxed few hours at it, I stare at a blank canvas. I cannot think what to paint. To get my creative juices flowing again, I could benefit from visiting an art gallery or taking a painting class.

The same is true for mothers—we can improve our creativity in mothering if we are given creative ideas and models. Perhaps some of the ideas that have worked in our family will stimulate your creativity and encourage the growth of your children's wings.

Surprises!

Surprises can add zest to life, demonstrate our love, and delight our families. Variety is the spice of life, so use variety to bring an element of surprise into your family.

When I was a girl, my mother would often rearrange my room at spring and fall housecleaning time. Since my bedroom was small, the options were limited, but even small changes didn't go unnoticed. I always loved sleeping the first night in a rearranged room.

The next time you pull out the bed to vacuum behind it, rearrange the furniture. If that isn't possible, try one of the following ideas.

  1. Put away the bedspread and make the bed with clean sheets and a colorful blanket. Turn the sheet back (my children call this a "company fold") and pin a note on it.
  2. Move a plant into their room or make a small flower arrangement for their dresser.
  3. Decorate the room for an approaching holiday. At other times of the year you can cut butterfly shapes from construction paper, let the children decorate them with markers, crayons, or paints, and then hang them on strings from the ceiling.
  4. Clip a few pictures from a magazine and tape them to your child's door.

Excerpted from  A Mother's Heart by Jean Fleming copyright 1982, 1996. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved.

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.



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