I met a sweet mom with younger kids last month and after observing my kids for about 30 minutes she asked me, “Do you have any parenting tips? Your kids are very well behaved…”
When people comment on my kids’ good behavior and ask me for advice, I usually just brush it off because let’s be honest, I don’t KNOW FOR SURE how my kiddos will turn out in the future. My eldest is only 14 right now, so I often don’t really feel like I have that much advice to offer until my kids are adults and following the Lord, you know?
I am NOT an expert, but after talking to that young mom, I thought of some things that I would like to share that are helping me along the way.
I write this as a woman on a journey, I have not arrived yet…
1. Commit your kids to the Lord.
Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.” My husband was a youth pastor in his early 20’s. Something he observed in that season was how a lot of frustrated parents would drop their kid off at youth group and basically want their kids to get just enough of God so that they would straighten up and be “good kids” but not TOO MUCH of God so that they will want to do something radical with their lives if He called them to it.
When you commit your children to the Lord, you need to fully commit them to Him with no strings attached.
My kids need the freedom to do what God has called them to without feeling pressure from me to be who I think they are supposed to be. I think when I view them from this lens, all of us feel a lot better about life.
I don’t pressure them to act a certain way because I want them to be accepted by others or make us look good as parents. I try to teach them from a young age about how God loves them and teach them biblical principles on how to live their lives.
I also NEVER EVER EVER compare them to other children (including their siblings). Comparison is not helpful to anyone, including children. I want my kids to be free to be who God made them to be and that is unique from every other person.
2. Embrace your season of motherhood.
When my husband and I were dating, I told him that whenever I get married, I planned to be a stay-at-home mom once I had my first baby. Well, I didn’t have to wait long for this hope to be realized because I got pregnant on our honeymoon.
My 1st son was 2.5 years old when my 3rd son was born.
I was in complete survival mode for many years. I remember one day, my husband and I were talking when he got home from work, and he saw how unhappy I was. He said, ‘What is one thing that you like about being a stay-at-home mom?” I remember, I started crying because I literally could not think of one thing that I enjoyed. I was exhausted all the time, but at the same time I did feel very called to being home full-time for my children.
I had to come to a point within myself and with the Lord, of embracing my stage of life and be home with my kids not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. I write more about this in a previous post entitled, “Can God meet me in the bathroom?”
I believe once I found my peace in the Lord and in my season of life, our home became a much more peaceful place.
3. Don’t give up nurturing and guiding your children, even when you’re tired and worn out and you think it is hopeless.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
I am home with my kids a lot, and when they do something well, I encourage and praise them for a job well done. We all need encouragement in our lives.
But if they do something foolish (like make fun of their sibling, or are super annoying to their sibling, or if they have a bad attitude), I call them out on it. I try not to do it in anger and frustration, but I do make them stop and think, as I point out their folly.
For example, if I hear one of them is making fun of a sibling, I stop and turn to them and say, “Hey, what are you doing? Are you making fun of your sibling?” Usually they will admit it because they were caught in the act, so then I say, “Well, are you intentionally trying to make so and so feel bad about themselves because that’s what it sounds like you are doing…do you realize this?”
It makes them stop and think about their words and behavior. Then I usually ask them how they think their actions make God feel…After they respond, I request that they apologize to their offended sibling and ask their sibling if they will forgive them.
I am making this sound a lot smoother than it usually goes, but I hope you get my point.
Accountability is a biblical principle and when done in love, it can really help a person (including a child) stay on track.
Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.”
I don’t think this verse is only talking about spanking, I think it is mostly talking about guiding a child.
When I hear the word “rod” I think about Jesus, who is the Great Shepherd. What do shepherd’s do with their rod? Do they go around just spanking their sheep with a rod all day?
As I looked up different uses of a shepherd’s rod on google, I found that a rod often steers the sheep in the right direction and keeps them safe from harm. As parents, it is our privilege to help guide and nurture our children with biblical love.
What is love? 1 Corinthians 13 tells us all about what real love is.
As we guide our children in their lives, let all discipline flow from a place of genuine love.