Raise a child, or perhaps several children, or more? This was new territory. The only experiences I'd had with children were basically in teaching 9- and 10-year-olds. That's a far cry from babies and toddlers! The parenting styles in our own homes when we were growing up were not similar in some ways that we felt were important, so we decided to learn together how to begin "doing" this parenting thing as a Christian couple who loved the Lord.
I was so blessed that my husband was interested in starting our parenting adventure off on the right foot! He was willing to read through some Christian books and materials with me, together, one night each week, so we could be in as much agreement as possible when our baby was born. We chose not to read most of the books and literature on the market, and instead settled on some parenting curriculum that we felt wasn't overly complicated and also just "made sense" to us. I'm not going to mention it here, because you may hate this product! But it worked well for our new little family.
This made a huge difference in how we felt when we brought our new baby, Kelsi, home from the hospital. Sure, we were still "terrified", but we knew that with the Lord's help, we could do this!
One of our main concerns is that my husband and I would be in agreement with how discipline and caregiving would take place in our home. Now that we've been parents for over 14 years, I have to say that this has made a world of difference in our home! We haven't had the girls attempt "mind games", trying to pull Dad one way and Mom the other...or, at least, when they attempted it a few times, they realized that this wasn't going to work.
The girls quickly learned that if Mom said, "No," then Dad was most typically going to say "no" as well. The girls learned to expect the same consequences for disrespect and poor behavior from both of us, the majority of the time. This has brought a sense of stability and harmony in our home, because the girls have a peaceful knowledge that Mom and Dad back each other up. And I love that!
I won't lie and say that I've been 100% consistent in using nurturing and discipline/instruction with the girls in our home. But I've worked very hard at this, to stay on top of the "little things" that often parents will let slide, especially at younger ages: rolling of the eyes; disrespectful sighs; grumblings; not following through with directions; creating more work for others; lack of willingness to obey. When the girls were 3 and 4 years old, I knew that if I allowed my four-year-old to roll her eyes at Mom (or if she saw me doing this to my husband disrespectfully), it would be very difficult to curb this behavior when she was 13 and 14 years old.
I've prayed to God many times for the strength to be consistently strong as a parent. Now, I certainly don't mean that I wanted to be harsh, or unforgiving. Not at all! I prayed for things like this:
1. When I'm on the telephone, Lord, please help me to be willing to end the phone conversation so I can appropriately teach and guide my children so they will know what is appropriate behavior when Mom is on the phone. (Anyone here have problems with this one?)
2. When I feel too tired to answer another "why, Mommy?" question (wanting to know how things work/develop/grow/were created, etc.), please, Lord, give me the strength to face those many questions with a smile and a loving spirit. I want the girls to still be asking me questions when they are 15 and 16 years old!
3. Help me, Lord, to be honest with myself when I observe my children. Do I have a blind spot about some behavior that is really hindering my children's growth and development, spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally?
4. Guide me, Lord, to be honest with myself when I see my children exhibiting poor, negative behaviors. When another parent comes to me to let me know about this, allow me to be humble and honest, recognizing my children's weaknesses and faults, so we can together pray about the problem and begin to develop deeper character.
The "other" very important thing to my husband and I:
a sincere smile!
Okay. Not really. That photo was just for fun!
But the point is that I wanted to teach well, with sincerity and confidence, providing guidance and discipline when needed, but also be known for having a forgiving, loving smile on my face as much as possible.
As a stay-at-home mom who is mostly with my children 24/7, this was going to be critical to my children growing up to be godly girls. I needed to ask myself these questions:
1. When I'm pleasantly surprised when something goes my way, do I verbalize thankfulness toward God for His goodness to me?
2. When I feel like I'm waking up to a "bad" morning, can I think of 10 things in 10 seconds for which I'm truly thankful?
3. Do I thank my children when they do something kind for me or complete a tough task I've asked them to do? Do I make this a big deal, hugging them and responding in a loving way toward them?
4. When I'm feeling overwhelmed or behind on my tasks and responsibilities, am I seeking God's advice on what to tackle next? Or am I sinking deeper into the pit of despair?
5. Do I treat each new day/hour/minute as a brand new day? Am I truly forgiving my children when they disobey? After they have repented of wrongdoing, am I willing to greet them with a smile and a hug?
6. Do I greet my children with a nice smile the first time we see each other in the morning?
No parent will ever "perfect" these two skills: consistent training and guidance - with a warm smile as much as possible.
But those can be some of our top priorities as we continue to parent our children in a godly way. While we can never guarantee that our parenting will produce godly children, we can provide the best environment, training, and attitude that we can...all with the Lord's help.
Join me here for four more days of 5 Days of Growing Godly Girls...and check out some other fabulous "5 Days of..." blog posts by other homeschooling parents:
And now for something special . . . a giveaway specifically for mothers of daughters!
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Praying Proverbs 31: Prayers for a Daughter's Virtue is so applicable to all moms who have daughters! Not only is it richly steeped in the Word of God, especially the Proverbs, it provides opportunity for moms to pray specifically about many areas of their daughters' lives...and to answer questions in a simple journaling format.
Praying Proverbs 31 is about touching the hearts and lives of our daughters through praying Scripture. It is both a devotional book and prayer guide, taking the truths of Proverbs 31 and using those truths to pray more specifically for our little women. One passage a week, one prayer a day for 10 weeks covering issues that are at the heart of womanhood: A Valuable Virtue, A Pure Life, A Rewarding Work, A Heart for Home, and more.