The atonement of Jesus Christ is the greatest act of heroism, selflessness and charity the world has ever known. It occurred when Christ, though sinless, allowed himself to bear the sins, pains and sicknesses of all who would ever call the earth home, and then die for them so they could live again.
Charity is the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love. Christ taught charity by his touch and his teachings, “Turn the other cheek,” “Go the second mile,” “As ye have done it unto one of the least of these ye have done it unto me,” “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you," "Feed my sheep," "Love one another as I have loved you.” Whatever the wording, the message is clear — charity is necessary for true followers of Christ.
Charity is the pure love Christ feels for us and asks us to feel for each other. If you feel outside of God's loving embrace or unable to feel charity for others, start here.
Pray for God's pure love for you; it is a gift he yearns to give. Believe the enlightening feelings you receive.
Ponder the question “What lack I yet?” as did the rich young man. Ask God for help in overcoming weaknesses.
Think loving thoughts about others and pray to love unconditionally.
Commit to relinquish less than charitable habits.
Remember the Savior’s example. Christ dined with publicans and sinners, instead of categorizing the lot as unworthy and unclean. He resisted becoming offended when his chief apostle denied knowing him. He lovingly taught a doubting disciple about the reality of the resurrection instead of chiding him for lack of faith.
Act as he would.
Paul details what charity is and is not in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Here are a few suggestions for putting charity into action.
Kindness comes when we remember all are spirit children of God and treat each other as such, by a gentle word, a soft touch, a caring gesture in the home, on the playground, at the workplace.
Jacob of the Old Testament loved his son Joseph more than all his children and made Joseph a coat of many colors. Ten brothers were jealous of Joseph but not Benjamin. Someone with charity is genuinely happy for the success of another.
To vaunt is to have pride; to think our time or possessions are better than another’s. When we’re late for an appointment or talk during a meeting, we assume our time is more valuable or important. When we brag about our accomplishments or "our stuff," we put ourselves above others. Instead, be considerate, grateful for what you have and have done and thankful to God for his divine help.
Paul taught "knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth" I recently read of a businessman who is world-renowned in his field, respected by his peers and honored by his friends. They describe him as brilliant and successful yet down to earth and a regular guy. Although this man has tremendous knowledge, it has not gone to his head.
Keep your cool
A person exhibiting charity is not easily provoked. A newspaper recently reported that two men got in a fist fight while inside a church; not over doctrine, but over where to sit. The police officer called to the scene arrested one of the men and commented that the incident was preventable if these grown men would have kept their cool. Remaining calm when someone gets under your skin shows that you love the person enough not to take offense.
A person with charity endures, as did the apostle Paul. They fight a good fight through hardships like a prolonged illness, death of a loved one, divorce, miscarriage, job loss or any other thorn in the flesh.
“Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down, or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other." Marvin J. Ashton, public speaker and family advocate.
Rather than waiting for the holiday season to show kindness, let's make service a priority all the year through by understanding and applying charity.
Children require the same type of emotional support as do adults. They need confirmation, affirmation, encouragement and love. In order to encourage children and keep them motivated, you don’t have to be especially creative. You just have to be sincere. Children are very keen and are able to sense things quite poignantly. When you are genuine with your feelings and support, you will get positive results.
Set reachable goals to encourage a child. When the child sees that they can actually reach a pre‐set goal, this works wonders in keeping them motivated. Make the goals set for the child age‐appropriate so that they can easily be attained. Setting the goals too high will cause the child to become frustrated, become discouraged and give up.
Encourage the child constantly. This area can never be overdone if looked at from this perspective: If the child knows that he or she will receive praise for their efforts or achievements, they are more likely to try harder.
Give the child food rewards as motivation for good behavior sparingly.Overuse of this type of affirmation can eventually cause bad eating habits in the child. For instance, food rewards are acceptable when potty‐training, but can be overused as motivation for daily activities such as for making their beds.
Reinforce their confidence level by telling them often that they can achieve their goals, whether they are large or small. This form of motivation applies well in sports‐related activities. Constant encouragement to “hit the ball, you can do it,” will eventually result in them actually hitting it!
For making the new academic session a year of growth and learning for your child it is time to bring some positive changes in your child’s schedule and yours. While some children need to put in extra hours for better performance, others need to have a greater balance in their activities. Here are some practical suggestions for the unbounded growth of your child:
- Meet the child’s new teacher
In the beginning of the new session, it is very important to know who is going to be responsible for your child through the academic year. Meeting the teacher would help you understand the person’s method and you can co-operate better for the benefit of your child. Through out the year, maintain contact with the teacher, even a handwritten note would be a good idea.
- Help your child to set a personal goal for the academic year
Enable your child to carve out a growth path of his own. A path that will help him learn new things, explore new ideas and make progress at a personal level. Help him to formulate simple steps to realize this goal. In the course of the year review the achievement and progress regularly. Children who feel responsible for their learning have a higher level of confidence and self-esteem and thus they achieve more.
- Complete homework before playtime
When the children go out to play, they need not be reminded of the homework which is waiting to get done. This way they can enjoy more freely. Also, since homework is essential it need not look like an unpleasant chore which ends their play. Hence, let children complete it and pack up for the next day as a priority.
- Understand your child by asking specific questions
Going to school is a routine activity; hence it may not be very easy for the child to give very specific updates to you everyday. Ask specific questions like “What did you learn in your science class today?” and you will be pleasantly surprised to hear their learning experience and observations.
- Rearrange the study space
The study area should be well lit and ventilated, and free from distractions of other activities in the house. If your child prefers to work while listening to music, you need not oppose it as music has a positive impact. However make sure there is no interference of television in the children’s study area. Rearranging the furniture is a refreshing change for the children.
- Prepare nutritious food
There is no substitute for a well-balanced nutritious meal. Eating healthy helps children grow, behave, think and perform and sleep better. Good eating habits include eating meals at their proper time as well. See to it that your child never leaves home without breakfast, as it is the most important meal of the day. Let nutrition be the central idea of food and help your child to try and appreciate new and healthy foods.
- Respect the bedtime
Adequate sleep can be ensured by establishing a clear rule for bedtime. Teach your child to respect it. Also, don’t let your own activities and noise level interfere with child’s sleep time. When a child stays up till late, it not only upsets the next day, but in the long run proves to be harmful to health.
- Keep time for physical activity
Apart from the academics, a child must be engaged in physical activities, whether it is swimming, skating or playing tennis. For younger kids, supervised play is recommended. Children deal with a lot of stress in their daily routine and exercise gives them the scope to unwind and enjoy.
- Give the child a specific household responsibility
Entrusting the child with a responsibility makes them feel useful and important. It also shapes them to become more dependable and aware of their surroundings. Simple household activities like filling water, arranging the newspaper, clearing the study table, filing the bills can make them more disciplined in the long run.
- Do at least one activity exclusively with your child
Everyday your child becomes a little more independent and needs you a little less. Find an activity in the new academic year which you will help you bond in a whole new way. Choose from your child’s interests, like discussing a particular newspaper column, reading a bedtime story, taking a short walk, exclusively. It will be the most precious moments of your day.
Just like every adult feels pressed for time as they do many activities during the day, so are our children. They have varied activities too like studies, hobby class, sports and games to play and many more. All these activities are supported by a host of items like stationery, sports equipments, learning toys, costumes, appliances etc. Given the growing space crunch in urban homes, it is very important for children to learn to organize their things and manage space intelligently.
Here are few points which can be useful to teach children how to keep their belongings organized:
- First and foremost, teach your child why organizing is important –
It may sound like a strange co-relation but behaviour analysts believe that condition of your shelves and drawers is very closely related to the condition of your mind. It could be quite challenging for your child to think clearly when things around him are not fashioned in a manner that promotes clear thought. For every item your child needs to use, he may be spending considerable time, even unknowingly, looking for it from among a heap of things. If everything is in its place, there is a state of orderliness which helps children to work and study well.
- Get away from the ‘short-cut method’ of cleaning –
When there is less time on our hands, it is difficult to not give in to the urge to put everything in the cupboard or drawer so as to keep the outer area like the living room, study area etc looking clean. Though others may like the orderliness, you would be very uneasy knowing that beneath the surface is all clutter and chaos! Therefore whenever you are cleaning, do so thoroughly. Clean the small areas too like drawers, shelves and even your wallet and bag.
- Assign a place –
Many times we expect children to keep their things in order without specifying an area for each of their varied belongings. To initiate the child into organized living you will need to actively participate at first showing him how to do it. If you want the sports items to be in one place, mark a shelf or a box where everything related – to the sport your child plays can be kept. Similarly, for his other belongings.
- Schedule a time –
Just as there is a specific time in your child’s schedule for studying, playing, reading, likewise dedicate a few minutes everyday as ‘clean- up time’. This would bring in discipline in your child to pick up things that he has used and to put them back in their right place. Also, once a week keep a little longer time to organize cupboards and drawers, or wherever your child’s belongings are stored. This will surely help the child during his busy week. It is very important that you do the same for your belongings too. When you are teaching something to your child, nothing works better than a live example.
- Decide promptly –
People generally stash items which they are not sure what to do with. At times it may be an uncomfortable decision, like whether they want to keep a certain thing or throw it away. The general rule is, if you have not used something in three months, it is very unlikely that you will use it any time later. Organizing needs decision-making at every step like – “do I need this?”, “will I use this?” And the sooner you arrive at the answer, the faster you can tackle the mess. It may take you and your child a little while, over time you will both learn to sort items fast. It will save so much of your space and time for things of real value.
- Allot the number of items –
If your child enjoys reading, it is natural that he would possess plenty of books and you may be buying every now and then as well to keep him going. As a result there would be a large number of books in your house, especially on the child’s study table in addition to the regular course books. You can embark on a method of using a permissible number, whether eight or ten, but no more should be on the table or shelf at a time. Each time your child gets a new book, have him give away one, or better still, two of his older books.
- Select what you put on display –
Let your child choose his best artwork created during the week which you can put on display. It may be a little tough for the enthusiastic artist to discard a large part of his work, but it is an important lesson in learning ‘quality work’. This way you can avoid the display area from getting overly crowded. As for the memories, you can take pictures of your child’s artwork and save it in a folder on your personal computer.
- Reduce ‘want’ purchases to ‘need’ purchases –
Take your child to donate books to under-privileged children. The experience can be an eye-opener. They begin to realize that they do not need so many toy cars, and also how much happiness they can give to another child by simply giving away an old toy. You will notice the change in your child’s approach to toys and ‘demands’ on the whole when they see there is a complete world outside their own privileged lives where children cope with challenging circumstances and make do with so little. It may hopefully reduce the number of things you must buy for your child. As a result, you can be sure to have attained considerable success in managing the overflow of things.
*Photo Courtesy – Getty Images
Malia (far right) and Sasha Obama
stand with their parents on stage at the end of the Democratic National Convention …
The public rarely catches a glimpse of President Barack Obama’s daughters Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11. Even an appearance on stage at the end of the Democratic National Convention wasn’t reason enough to break the “you must go to school” rule; as the president promised in his speech, the girls were at their desks at Sidwell Friends School first thing in the morning. But when you’re parenting in the White House, you have to be even stricter than your average mom or dad.
How strict? The New York Times’ Jodi Kantor listed a few rules that First Lady Michelle Obama has mentioned over the years:
The girls must write reports about what they’ve seen on their trips, even if it’s not required by their school.
- Malia may use her cellphone only on the weekends, and she and her sister cannot watch television or use a computer for anything but homework during the week.
- Malia and Sasha have to play two sports: one they choose and one selected by their mother.
- Malia must learn to do laundry before she leaves for college.
- The girls have to eat their vegetables, and if they say that they are not hungry, they cannot ask for cookies or chips later.
But the first lady doesn’t think her rules are all that harsh. “They’re not little princesses,” Mrs. Obama told in an interview last year. “It’s just basic rules, boundaries, and expectations that we would have normally.”
In general, the rules that the Obama kids must abide by are pretty straight forward. Here are a few others that the first lady shared:
They must do their chores. Though the White House has a large staff, Malia and Sasha have chores of their own. “They have to make their beds, they have to clean up their rooms,” she said last year. “They have chores to do, and they don’t get their allowance until they can prove that they’ve done their chores for the week.”
They can’t watch much TV. “We have clear rules about screen time and TV time. None during the week if it doesn’t involve schoolwork,” she said. They’re allowed some TV time on the weekends, but even then “I try to fill up their weekends with a lot of stuff so they wind up missing that, too,” Mrs. Obama confided. “It’s like, sports and games, and then, oh, it’s bedtime, so sorry you didn’t get your TV time in.”
No R-rated movies for pre-teens. While Malia, 14, has gone to a few R-rated movies (after they’ve been vetted by her parents), Sasha, 11, is not allowed to watch R-rated movies at all, and even kid-centric TV shows get monitored. “Nowadays, sometimes what’s on the kid programming, some of that teenage programming is pretty high-level stuff, too,” the first lady said. “So you find that you have to constantly just be engaged with them and hear what they’re learning and talk to them about the shows that they’re watching.”
They can only have healthy snacks. “We have fruit. We have some cereals, some crackers, nuts, dried foods that are out,” Mrs. Obama said. “We try to put out healthy snacks in clear containers, because seeing dried fruit gives the kids the idea, ‘Oh, yes, if I’m hungry I could really have this or the nuts or the soybean things.’ And my whole thing is if you’re really hungry, you can have that. If you don’t really want it, then you’re not really hungry.”
They must play a team sport. “Sports is an expectation, and we say it’s an expectation because it’s about good health,” the first lady said. “It’s about learning how to play on a team, learning how to lose, learning how to win gracefully, learning how to trash talk and not get your feelings hurt.” Individual sports are great, but “I think team sports are important particularly for girls, where they learn the camaraderie of being dependent on other people for the victory,” she said in April. “And I think my girls need to learn how to compete. Whether they choose to do it long term, I just think it’s an important opportunity for girls to have.”
Quitting is not allowed. “Kids tend to quit when it starts getting hard, which means that’s when they’re starting to learn something,” Mrs. Obama told. “And that’s the tough time to continue to make them go to that tennis lesson. Even though Malia was complaining about it, she now loves tennis. And now she’s saying, ‘Well, I’m glad you made me keep taking tennis.’
In the end, the Obamas want for their kids the same things that we want for ours: A chance for them to grow into safe, responsible, and happy people.
“They’re terrific girls. They’re poised and they’re kind and they’re curious. Like any mother, I am just hoping that I don’t mess them up,” the first lady said. “Even when times are tough, in the end you are as happy as your least happy child.”
What do you think of the Obama’s household rules? How do they compare to the rules your kids live by at your house?
Courtesy – Yahoo Inc