Legacy to the Next Generation: Presence

“Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 TEV).

Every parent longs to leave a positive legacy in their children, but what does it take? Having dealt with thousands of families over the years, I’ve noticed four common gifts we need to give to the next generation: Our presence, our acceptance, our guidance and our correction.

The gift of your presence: Sometimes just being there is what matter most to your kids.

One day, my daughter came home crushed after not making the color guard in eighth grade. To make matters worse, all of her friends had made it. Sobbing, Amy went and sat on the floor of her walk-in closet.

But one by one, each member of our family entered her room and crawled into the closet just to sit on the floor with her in silence and cry with her. None of us tried to talk her out of her grief. We didn’t minimize her pain. We didn’t change the subject. We didn’t try to get her to look at the bright side of what had happened. We didn’t urge her to try harder next time. We just sat there and hurt with her.

Jesus said we should, “Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 TEV). That is the essence of empathy; it is the gift of presence.

In the Bible, when disaster and tragedy completely wiped out Job’s family, three of his friends came and just sat in silence with him for three days. As long as they kept their mouths shut, it was comforting to Job. But as soon as they started conjecturing the possible reasons for Job’s pain and offering advice, they got into trouble.

The Bible says, “Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19 TEV).

Just as brick homes are built one brick at a time, the lives of our children are built with the bricks of presence, acceptance, guidance, and correction. Every time you give a child one of these gifts, you are building his or her life. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the gift of acceptance.

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