My dad always made me think I was the sunshine of his life.
He always told me he was proud of me and that I could do anything I set my mind to. He never let a day go by without telling me he loved me (even when I was an adult). When he was around, I always felt cherished and adored. My picture of God has been established through my father's devotion to me.
When I was a grown woman, I asked my father, "How do you think you made me feel this way?" He let me in on a little secret . . .
"I smiled at you and sighed big as if I had waited hours to see you", he told me.
"I practiced entering a room with you there and smiled every time. It took work, but eventually it became natural". He continued to explain that the world's troubles would overtake him and he would be grumpy and upset often. He saw he was taking it out on his kids so he decided to practice smiling and sighing happiness when we were around.
It worked. The Bible says in Proverbs 15:30 "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart".
Smiling! Such a simple act has so much power.
Who knew? In fact, much research has been done on the subject. I have felt convicted myself to smile more at my children and husband too.
Smiles are the first building blocks to a healthy relationship with your baby.
Smiling at your baby plays a part in bonding and helps them feel safe and secure. Chemicals released during smiling and laughing help grow the brain and the nervous system, researchers say.
As children grow, their circles widen, but their parents’ approval still is central to their development. One researcher said, “Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.” When we smile at our children, we make them feel like they are eating candy! It makes them happy and relaxed. They quickly point out real smiles are required, not fake ones. You know the grin that brightens your face and makes the edges of your eyes rise? This is the smile to bring comfort to your children. My dad sighed to let us know he was really happy to see us. Fake or not, it worked on me!
When should we smile at our kids? When he enters a room . . . when he leaves the house . . . when we come home from being away . . . when he wakes in the morning and as he goes to bed at night!
So much smiling, you say?
Here is the deal. Not only will this one act help us raise a calm, intelligent and confident child, but it has benefits for us too.
Smiling is important for our health. It can lower blood pressure, improve digestion and regulate blood sugar. Smiling can lead to laughter, which helps you sleep better. When we delight in another person, we trick our minds into believing we are really happy, even if we are not. Endorphins are released, creating a "feel-good" sensation.
More importantly, we are God's smile to our children.
He is a good father and delights in us. How much more should we show this to our children? Just as my picture of God is a direct result of my relationship with my father, so I am painting a picture for my children of who God is. Let me remember to smile as I see them, delight in the things that delight them and remember to play.
As I type this blog, I am reminded myself to smile at my children as we begin a fresh school year with no surgery to get over or pain to muddle through. I think I have forgotten this very important lesson my dad taught me. Life makes it easy to frown sometimes.
I love this quote from Mother Teresa:
"Smile at each other, smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other—it doesn't matter who it is—and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other."
How will you "smile" more this year?
~Jeanna Young - When Jeanna is not writing, speaking, event planning, or homeschooling, she can be found scrapbooking her life, redecorating her home, loving on her husband, planning fun events for her kids or eating healthy to stay cancer-free!