The year 2020 has given us all more time to pause and reflect. One thing that has impressed itself on me is the family God has blessed me with. As other outside demands and activities faded into the background, I noticed my family coming into clearer focus.
In our culture, it is easy to relegate our children to the bottom of the pile of things to do. We have our to-do list, and our children’s needs are often fitted in around our schedule. It led me to think of the high value God puts on children.
“Children are a heritage from the Lord.”Psalm 127:3
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”Matthew 19:14 NIV
In the early church, encouragement was given for the older women to “urge the younger women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:4 NIV).
Loving our children can be seen in a variety of ways. It is looking after their wellbeing. Creating a healthy, peaceful environment for them to live in. Caring for their physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. I have had to ask myself, am I being intentional in my parenting? Am I letting my children spend too much time on screens, so I can “get stuff done”?
Being intentional takes effort. And time. And planning. And doing.
I want to involve my children in the life of the home, by having them help with chores, teaching them skills for life, so they will feel a valuable part of the family and will be prepared for independence when the time comes for it.
I want to be more intentional about instilling spiritual values into my children. Not in a stiff, formal way, but, sprinkling it in throughout the day.
“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”Deuteronomy 11:19 NIV
I want to create more of a learning environment in our home, where good books are read and shared, introducing my children to great men and women of faith from past generations.
And I want to get involved in their lives. Find out what their interests are, take time to listen, and learn about them.
Often as mothers, we find ourselves constantly directing, instructing, correcting. But it is good to take time to stop and listen. To stop and play. To enter their world for a while. To have fun with them!
Psalm 113 verse 9 says, “He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children”.
A joyful mother?
When I first came across that phrase it caused me to pause. Am I a joyful mother? Unfortunately, I had to admit I was often definitely not a joyful mother. Motherhood is hard work. But as I thought about being a joyful mother, it helped to remind me that children are a gift from God. He has kindly blessed me and my husband with four healthy boys. We should value them as much as God does and see them as the main responsibility in our lives, not an added extra.
This past year has made me reconsider my priorities. Yes, I am called to serve within my church family, and to reach out into my community, but not at the expense of loving my children well.
Of course, we will not do this parenting thing perfectly. We can all give ourselves grace, but we also need to embrace this job with energy and approach it with joy. God has given these children to us.
Like the woman in Proverbs 31:26-28 we can:
- Teach our children – “She opens her mouth with wisdom”.
- Listen and respond to our children with kindness, not being abrupt or impatient – “on her tongue is the law of kindness”.
- Set our priorities and values for our home – “She watches over the ways of her household”.
- Make the necessary effort – “and does not eat the bread of idleness”.
And then we too may be privileged to hear the echo coming back to us through the years, the voices of our children . . . “Her children rise up and call her blessed”