Strong Relationships, Part 4
Some last thoughts that I wish to share with you young mamas:
“Let love be without hypocrisy” (Romans 12:9). I have been asking myself where my love for God, husband, children is hypocritical… where I say I love but act in unloving ways. As my pastor said in his sermon Sunday, children can smell hypocrisy a mile away.
There is much truth in the quote from Nancy Deigh LeMoss that “anything that makes me aware of my need for God is a blessing.” Raising children makes one very aware of their need for the Lord! I have decided a good hallmark hymn for parenting could be: “I need Thee every hour!!”
Actively teach them what sin is, what to do when they sin, why Jesus is the only Savior and how to become a Christian. As with every question your child asks, when they ask you about the Lord and the truth of His Word, listen carefully, respond with direct and clear answers, and use Scripture to verify what you say. There are lots of good books to help you do this, like Leading Little Ones to God. This can be simple: When the kids were really little I read to them from a children’s Bible as they ate lunch in their high chair. Once we finished one Bible we started again with a new one.
Here are some basic principles that create security and build relationships with your child:
Train your children with appropriate boundaries and consequences and expect obedience, but do not expect behavior that is beyond his or her capabilities. Punish disobedience with appropriate measures, but never in anger.
Seek consistency. Speak with kindness and in all other areas seek to model those attributes that you want them to emulate. Desire to live what you teach.
Now our kids are 25, 23 and 20 and we still have these conversations. It’s a lot easier to begin humble and honest conversation when they are young and the topics aren’t so heavy. When you do so, you all develop confidence and practice to know that home/parents are a safe place to dialogue about real issues.
Be slow to speak, quick to hear, slow to become angry. Don’t lecture. Listen well, ask good questions to draw them out, pray…and THEN speak. Try not to overspeak! Kids will eventually tune you out. But if they learn that when they come to you they will receive a calm and thoughtful response, and appropriate discipline - with the goal toward discipleship training and not to punish - from a humble parent who is aware of their own sin struggles, they are more likely to come to you because they’ve learned you really care. And you won’t freak out!
“At every family table there is sure to be talking; and the talk that is heard at the family table is sure to have its part in a child’s training, whether the parents wish it to be so or not. … In order to make table-talk valuable, parents must have something to talk about at the table, must be willing to talk about it there, and must have the children lovingly in mind as they do their table talking” (JC Ryle).
Build traditions: What makes you a *insert last name*? Use from each of your families, but make your own as well. This will knit your family together.
We don’t make it our ultimate goal to have relationships with our children, or to please them. Rather, our ultimate goal should always be to walk in obedience to the Lord and please Him with the way that we love and train our children. There are certainly no guarantees with parenting, but as we walk in obedience to His truth, leading our little ones to God, teaching them about Himself and His ways, we have confidence in our purpose and peace in our hearts.
This is such a tender area and one that I feel deeply about — a mother having relationships with her children. Every mama’s heart cries out for this. This is an important goal but can never be an ultimate goal: that will lead to idolatry (putting your children over the Lord, disappointment - when they don’t need us or disappoint us; it can cause us to put them ahead of the priority of our husband, walking in disobedience to God and to the detriment of our marriage).
My husband and I came into parenthood with a strong desire to break some of the negative patterns that we had grown up with and a commitment to ask questions, read and learn together as we sought to form new patterns for our family. We were committed to one another and to a desire to raise our children in a loving home where they had the opportunity to know the Lord… but a lot of the specific how to’s, we had to learn as we went!
As you know, success in parenting isn’t about perfection. If it was, we would all be doomed! There is only one perfect parent, and that’s our Heavenly Father. He is the One we look to as we parent.
As you seek this good goal (tying heart strings with your children that will last), remember to keep these four priorities in the order the Lord has placed them according to scripture. Remember that He is faithful, and He desires for you to have a beautiful, God-honoring, life-long friendship with your child that will last into their adult years.
Many thanks to this anonymous, wise mother for sharing her wisdom with us!