If you know me at all, you know that I am a “processor.” And for as long as I can remember, I’ve reflected on “lessons learned” from various life experiences.
One of the greatest joys of my life has been the incredible gift of motherhood. Granted, raising just one child certainly doesn’t qualify me as an “expert,” and the fact that my 23-year old is an exceptional young woman cannot be attributed to my stellar mothering skills. It could just be dumb luck. However, I believe all the credit belongs to God.
(Side note: if you have several children and they all become giving and responsible adults, I will place you in my Parenting Hall of Fame!)
As Mother’s Day approaches, I’d love to encourage every mother (or mother-to-be) with some hard-earned wisdom entitled:
“More and Less…5 Mothering Tips from the Jodster:”
1. MORE prayer and release…LESS worry and control:
One of the best things I’ve ever done is to follow the example of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:27-28. Hannah had asked God for a child, and was blessed with a son named Samuel. I was inspired to follow Hannah’s prayer when my daughter was born: “I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life, he will be given over to the Lord.” I chose to entrust Anne to God the day I brought her home from the hospital.
I saw my motherly role as a steward, not an owner.
Yet I’ve had to repeat this prayer many times as my daughter has grown…started driving…gone to college…served in Africa…and moved across the country to launch her career. When worry strikes, I remind myself that she belongs to God, not to me. And I know that I can trust Him completely with her well-being.
Our children are not our “possessions.” We can’t control them. Teach and guide them, yes. Control them? No way. Pray for them throughout their lives? Absolutely!
2. MORE individual…LESS lemming:
“Cookie cutters are fine if you’re making cookies.” So reads a caption from a GMC truck ad. That wisdom applies to parenting, too. How many of us, as parents, get trapped in “keeping up with the Joneses?” How often do we pressure our children to perform or pursue the same things as every other child?
Why not take the time, instead, to understand our children’s unique gifting and the things that bring them joy?
Resist the temptation to behave like a lemming, rushing en masse to the sea. One way you can encourage the wonderful, individual qualities in your child is by writing them an affirming letter, identifying their character qualities that are so unique and special. When you write a letter, you give your child something that can be read and re-read over the years.
3. MORE manners…LESS “whatever:”
What happened to good manners? To saying “please” and “thank you?” When did the good, old-fashioned thank-you note become passé? Why is looking a person in the eye so rare?
Good manners show others that they are valued. Good manners make a person winsome.
Having consistently good manners will set your child apart from the masses of kids who have a “whatever” attitude. Whether it’s at school or in the working world, good manners make a positive difference.
4. MORE family time…LESS screen time:
Just look around the next restaurant you enter. Look at the families. Count the number where every family member is looking at a cellphone or tablet and not interacting with each other. It’s tragic.
Meaningful family time doesn’t happen by accident. It has to be intentional.
Maybe you’ll actually have to calendar “play time” with your children to make it happen. If so, please do it. Set a goal to have dinner together as a family several times a week.
If you’re not intentional, you’ll blink twice, and your children will be graduating from high school…and you’ll wonder where the years have gone.
5. MORE others…LESS “me…me…me…me:”
Please don’t allow your child to become your idol. Before you laugh at that comment, think twice. It’s easy for well meaning parents to make their children their top priority. Ahead of God, ahead of their spouse. Ahead of everything else.
One of the best ways to “dethrone” your children is by setting the example of helping others. Involve your kids in serving people who can’t do anything for you or them. Teach your children it’s not all about them.
Do you have parenting advice to share? If so, please send me your “More and Less” advice and I’ll include your wisdom in a future blog post.
Whether you’ve been blessed to have been raised by wonderful parents or you have struggled to learn healthy parenting skills, you are capable of being a great mother or father. Don’t lose heart.
All the best to you this Mother’s Day.
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