Family•Parenting • 5 minutes to read
As a mother of two children and a grandmother of four, I would have never thought 50 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child I would find such fulfillment in my amazing family. A career in teaching was great and years of ministry have been deeply fulfilling, but nothing compares to raising a family and seeing those eternal relationships develop and grow.
As a counselor, as we talk through an Adult Attachment Inventory, I often ask my clients, “What are three things you would wish for your children 20 years from now?” I love the many responses I hear and you might want to list your own.
Before each of our children were born we began to pray three things:
- They would be healthy.
- They would love Jesus all the days of their lives and serve Him.
- They would marry someone who loves Jesus.
There were multiple times in their growing up years we had to contend for these three things and it is amazing how God honored these prayers for both our children. We often stood on the scripture in Deuteronomy where God says that the curse will go to the third and fourth generations; but in Deuteronomy 5:10 it says: He shows “mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (NKJV). In other words, His Blessings and His mercy are more powerful than the curse.
One of the reasons God honored these prayers was that we proactively partnered with Him, especially in three areas:
1. We made prayer a natural part of our family routine. We would pray whenever there was a need for our kids or others. We would give thanks for every meal and end the day with prayer. Often we would pray over concerns the kids had before they left for school.
2. We disguised our devotional times as a family into fun events. In fact, if you asked our kids today, they would tell you we never had devotions as a family. We would play games and read fun Christian based books that would allow us to have great discussions about our family values.
3. Our kids were still in grade school when they made the transition from Christian school to public school. I realized I needed to be more involved in their education so I would check out curriculum guides before the beginning of each year to figure out what my children were being taught. I would often step in and be proactive when there were anti-Christian syllabi, especially by augmenting their education at home with books that had Christian values (history, literature, and sex education were topics I was most concerned about). The silver lining with Covid is that parents are waking up to how they will have to strongly model their Christian values in their own home. The scripture, Proverbs 22:6, says to train up your child in the way he should go. The parent, not the teacher, is the one who is most knowledgeable about their child’s needs.
Wherever I could, I would also volunteer in the kid’s classrooms. This gave me the ability to see the dynamics of what my child was facing day-to-day and it allowed me to have influence with the teachers, especially when I had concerns about the curriculum.
The other question I ask clients is to think back and reflect on what life has taught them. What would they do differently?
For me, I realized as a new mom my identity was tied too closely to my children’s behavior. Ultimately, my greatest fear was that I would do something wrong and mess up as a mom. If I could have a do-over, I would have lightened up a lot. Today, I am able to assure new moms of this truth: you only have to get it right 30% of the time to be a good mom. Children are so resilient and forgiving, if you blow it and confess your mistakes, they forgive just like God forgives.
I was told that grandkids are the reward for not killing your kids. But in reality I believe grandkids give you the opportunity to have a do-over. Age and experience gives you wisdom to realize what is really important in life and how to enjoy your kids. With age I now realize their messes and mess ups are not the end of the world. They are actually opportunities for me to grow in my parenting skills.
My kids have often asked me as a grandma, “Why are you so permissive with our kids compared to how you raised us?”
This statement finally hit home one time when our first grandchild, at 6 years old, came home and was doing something and my daughter said, “Ashley, what are you doing?” Ashley quickly stated, “Grandma lets me do it.” My daughter informed her, “We don’t do that in this house!” A few hours later, Ashley was doing something else and my daughter again asked her what she was doing? Again Ashley stated, “Grandma lets me do it.” My daughter repeated, “We don’t do that in this house.”
Finally, in total frustration, Ashley asked, “Where did we get this house?”
I think one of the greatest joys as a grandparent is to see your kids take parenting to a whole new level. Because Ted and I were first generation Christians, we tried to use biblical principles and would even teach parenting classes to our congregation. But because of no generational track record we would come home and say, “God, we hope these parenting principles work.”
Guess what? They did.
I had the privilege of doing a conference with my daughter a few years back and was impressed by how she and her family had taken our first generation attempts of goals and values to a whole new level. They used one of our Pure Desire tools, the Family Values Exercise, during one of their family meetings. These are the five family values her family agreed upon.
- Putting God First—before we make decisions, we invite God into the decision. We give Him the firsts of everything: our time, money, and gifts.
- Honoring Relationships—respect, openness, responsiveness, and expect the best.
- Forgiveness—we won’t hold on to offenses.
- Having Fun—one member of the family wanted to make the list simpler: lets get rid of fun. No, you’d have to vote dad off the island!
- Unconditional Love—it’s safe to fail; we serve one another.
You can use the Family Values Exercise to create your own family values!
As a mom who didn’t have a clue as to how to raise Godly children, I encourage you: whether you are a new mom or one who has already launched her children, it is never too late to grow personally and contend for your children and grandchildren. And hopefully, like me, you will realize God is in the business of allowing you to have do-overs no matter the ages of your children and grandchildren.