Being a Mother of four has taught me a few things, one of which is to have a plan…and then to realize that it often get’s juice spilled on it and thrown in the garbage.. ok, no really, to try and have a plan. Not just for the day, but also for life. I thought I would share a few principles that have shaped this season of Motherhood and given some guidance in an at-times scary and unsure season of life. They didn’t have names before now, but voila! Now they do.
Prepare for the Win- A few years ago, on a visit to the Clinton Presidential Library, we were able to read some of the daily schedules for the President. One word that is still etched in my mind after reading these pages is “Preparation”. The President always knew what to expect, because someone was consistently going before him with research and experience, so that he could put his “best foot forward” when he got there. He knew who to talk to, what their names were and what they were meeting about. Only every now and then do we here about a faux pas because someone hadn’t prepared him appropriately. Our kids need the same thing. We are like their Coach. As their parents, we are the ones who have to study the field, know the players and prepare them to win in this world. We have life experience that they just don’t have. Now, there is certainly something to be said for making your own way, but that comes later. I believe we should give them as many tools as we can while they are young and in our home, so that they feel prepared to face what comes their way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in situations where I’ve been forced to stand up and teach or lead. I can look back over the years and see the preparation that has taken place. Thanks to my parents, teachers and even Youth Pastors who asked me to give a speech or teach something, I now (mostly) thrive in that place, because I have been equipped. Show your children that you care by preparing them well.
Don’t Inflate, Delegate!- Sometimes speaking in a louder than normal voice just makes me feel better about getting my point across, however, it’s not always necessary..or kind. There is mess everywhere, dishes to be done, laundry to be folded and now another person is asking for something or spilling juice everywhere. It’s not life-altering, just annoying and it can lead me to feel like I’m going to burst. So when you’re overwhelmed, instead of inflating like an angry balloon, try to delegate. Get your children to help in whatever little or big way they can. Teaching the basics of cleaning or helping at a young age will reap huge benefits in the future. We’re still laying the ground-work at our house, but improvement is being made. Over time, a schedule of light cleaning and making beds becomes a natural part of their routine.
Also, when I find my children are having continual disobedience problems, which begins to wear on me as their Mother (and I begin to look like the inflating balloon), I have started instead, to hand them a wet cloth. This works wonders to refocus them for a moment… and to get my baseboards clean. And I’m not sure if anyone else has this same problem, but when I’m being asked 40 questions while trying to get dinner on the table, I’ve started asking them to pick up a toy or two. It’s amazing how turning the tables can lessen the questions. I’m not saying to ignore your children, I talk to mine literally all day long. But, when your home is filled with lots of little people like mine is, a few well-placed quiet moments can be golden.
Celebrate the Victories- I had never seen this modeled quite like it was in Little Rock, Arkansas where we lived for just less than a year. A rare group of Christians had celebrated key moments in their children’s life that looked something like this: It was partying over their salvation like scripture tells us the angels do in heaven, or giving a significant but perhaps small gift when they are baptized, have come of “age” or graduate. One Mother brought her friends around her daughter for a dinner where they would speak truth into her life and promise to walk with her as she grows. We heard about men honoring their sons with a feast and “knighting” them. Words were spoken, lives were celebrated, and hearts were encouraged to be aligned with the Savior. These are the kinds of victories that should bear our celebration.
When Jesus Christ was baptized the heavens opened and God spoke some life-giving words: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” We have no doubt if God loved and cherished His Son. He told us and He spoke these words in front of other people. I think this is another golden nugget of scripture that should not be missed. What would your kids say you think of them? Do you speak purposeful and respectful words? They need to hear them often and especially at key moments in their lives.
Go Green– I don’t mean to get environmentally friendly here. I’m talking about the “Greenhouse Effect”. The first time I had heard about this was while reading “One Million Arrows” by Julie Ferwerda a couple of years ago. The Greenhouse effect encourages you to shelter your little “seeds” for a time so that they can grow strong. Then, when they are more mature and can stand on their own spiritually, you let them out into the big open “field” filled with heavy wind and rain.
When your children are young, use every opportunity to instill your family’s values. Teach their little sponge-minds Bible verse after Bible verse. Allow God’s Word to penetrate their hearts, so that later as adults they can recall those pegs of learning that you gave them as little children. The fact is, if the TRUTH is not there to recall, it gives way to LIES being believed.
Little children are so impressionable. They pick up attitudes and views of the world from everyone they spend time with-including the television. Other authority figures can be confusing to smaller children (and some older ones as well) if their view is very different from yours as the parent. Children will decide whether or not they would like to obey their own parents or if they like what the other authority is saying more.
This idea was revolutionary for me. While (as Christians) we are to be the “light of the world”, my children (at age 5) are not. In fact, some aren’t even Christians at this age, so why would I look to them to be “light” to others? They can be kind and show Christ-like love on occasion to a friend, but the “why’s” of what we do are still being learned and processed through. It’s here in the safety of our home that questions are not off-limits. We can sift through the tough questions they have about the Bible at home, so that when they get out from under our influence, they have intelligent thought processes and answers for Biblical principles. That’s what we pray for! This may look different in your home than it does in mine, (and I don’t think ours is the only way), but it is an intentional decision that can be worked out in different ways based on your family’s needs.