It is the season of gifts and gracious giving... But how (and how much) should we extend that throughout the year? I list below some ways of giving within a family....
...really keying into what means the most to those we love Time
....in moments of real connection Encouragement
...in words and touch and looks Hugs and love
....when you feel like it, and when you don't....or especially if you don't Greetings
....those simple moments of caring enough to make partings or returns important Gifts
...sometimes and at many different levels of value Acts of service
....that show the other person they are cared for Patience
....to wait, to keep negative responses in check and to accept other people's limits Acceptance
...a real regard for ALL that a loved on it, not just their good bits
....Just enough to grow capabilities and not too much to create dependence
The last one on the list leads me to an important consideration of 'balance' between giving and receiving. For too much giving without return creates resentment, burn out and victimisation. Too much receiving within a relationship may dis-empower the other.
Of course parents want to give, but encouraging giving in children is vital to their overall sense of being capable. Sometimes we need to be the recipient of their knowledge or help, so not knowing the answer to all their questions, but finding out together is useful. Asking for help with adult projects, even if it is only a listening ear to hear the hardship of it, is also a way to be vulnerable and teach children that not everything comes easy to adults; thus they can see the parent persist through difficulty too. Giving between siblings should also be encouraged, remembering that in other cultures siblings are a huge source of daily functional support which engenders great sense of unity and responsibility.
Recognising the different 'weight' of giving is important too. That mum's time throughout a Long day, might be as valuable as dad's income, or that a love filled, home made cake might be as valuable as a fancy purchased one. That one child may give humour to the family, whilst another gives more serious consideration, or that one parent may offer more gentleness and the other balances this with sterner discipline. Talking about this promotes the capacity to see one another's strengths.
I wish you happy giving for the Christmas season and throughout the next year.