It’s one thing to talk the talk. It’s another to walk the walk. Every mother has good intentions to be the best mother to her children that she possibly can be. But when the cereal hits the ceiling, it reveals our hearts and who we truly are, not just as a mother, but as a person.
We study parenting books, devour blog posts and maybe even make notes on how to be a better mother. Or at least others of us have good intentions. But ask any mother and my guess is that most of us would like to be better or feel that we are falling short.
As a mother trying to teach her children about Christ, I feel like a failure at the best of times. I may read the Bible with my children each night and take them to church on Sundays. But I realise I am missing the mark and feel like I’m failing as a Christian parent.
I have recently realised, as expressed in my previous post Momming the Gospel that it’s not as hard and unattainable as it may seem to teach our children about God as we think. Teaching our children the Gospel can be done through the everyday situations we find ourselves in. It doesn’t necessarily take a concerted effort. Rather, it means seeking to live out the Gospel through the daily events in our lives and directing conversations towards Jesus.
Loving Others Above Self
Teaching our children to love others above themselves permeates every aspect of living. It impacts the choices we make, the words we say and the things we do. In virtually every situation, we could ask our children how their decisions, words and actions would affect those around them. How would it make your sister feel if you offered her first? It would help me if you unpacked the dishwasher. Do you think it might be kind to give your brother a turn with that toy?
Personally, this is probably one of my real weaknesses. I am a criticiser not an encourager. I am more likely to choose words that will tear others down rather than build them up. As a child, one thing I remember often getting into trouble for was the way I spoke to my sister and the tone of voice I used. It’s an area that I need to work on personally before I can expect change in my children. We can continually Draw attention to the tone of voice and to the words chosen. Perhaps something can be said in a kinder way. Sometimes, we can show them that it is better to listen or hold your tongue rather than speak. We can imitate this in the way we respond and speak to our spouse and our children, showing them that we value them as people made in God’s likeness.
Serving others is easy to demonstrate in the home but, selfishly, we all find it hard to do. We can serve and help others by unpacking the dishwasher, helping with cooking, picking up the mess we made and even the mess made by others. We can show our children how to serve by watching for those in need whether it be friends, fellow church members or our domestic worker. We can give to those who have less, invite the hungry into our home or visit the lonely. We can serve our husbands by doing things that we know would help them. We can heighten our children’s awareness to the needs and desires of others so that they understand the joy that can be found in serving others.
Apologies and Forgiveness
Again, if we mean to teach our children to apologise and forgive, this is something we need to demonstrate ourselves. We can’t tell them to, “Say you’re sorry!” if we make biting remarks about our in-laws or give our husband the silent treatment because he was home ten minutes late and refuse to forgive him despite his multiple apologies. We need to demonstrate “not letting the sun go down upon our anger’ and forgiving much as we have been forgiven much. We need to apologise to our spouse and our children if we have wronged them. And if you yelled at your spouse in front of your children, also reconcile in front of them. It takes a lot of humility but it needs to be modelled.
As a society, we’ve become self-sufficient and trust God only as long as we have life insurance, health insurance, money in the bank, etc. I’m not saying any of those things are bad. But, what I have realised is that when we have nothing but God to rely on, the strength of our belief is tested. We can’t just talk the talk to our kids. We have to model what it means to have faith and trust God. Praying for the impossible, knowing He may choose not but is able. Trusting Him to provide for our needs. Trusting that what He promises is true. I once read that parents should make a book filled with the ways God has come through for them so that they can tell their children of God’s faithfulness from generation to generation. What a lovely idea!
Rather than aiming to exert authority and win the fight or, on the other extreme, pander to our children’s thoughts, we need to look at the Word to get wisdom in this area and not just turn to our forefathers’ techniques or research. The Bible should be the authority on everything. And our children need to know it. As we speak through why they receive the consequences, whatever that may be, for their disobedience, we can speak about what Jesus would do and how the Bible instructs us to act. Reminding them of his teachings repeatedly will ingrain these truths in their hearts.
It is important to remind our children that everything we have is a gift. We are owed nothing. God has gifted us with life, with food, with wealth and more. We are instructed to steward things wisely. So when our children waste or are ungrateful for food and break their belongings or when we overspend continually or wish our lives away, we are not being good stewards of the gifts God has graciously given us. Our children and our husbands are gifts. Are we stewarding them well? We are also gifted with the Gospel. Are we being good stewards of it, sharing it with others? Or are we tucking it away in a drawer?
Prayer and Bible Reading
I often get frustrated when my kids interrupt my quiet times. And my husband has always been so patient with them. One day, I asked him why he isn’t distracted by them, to which he responded,
“They need to see us doing our quiet times so that they see us spending time with the Lord.”
Read your Bible in front of your kids. Pray out loud, not just when you kneel beside their bed but while you’re baking; when you’re frustrated; when you’re thankful. Talk with God. Show them the relationship not the religion.
And pray for them. Pray for their salvation, their friends, their future spouse, their faults and their strengths. Pray that the Lord would use them for His glory. Cover your family in prayer.
The possibilities are endless because the true gospel is lived and not just preached. Be the hands and feet of Christ to your children.
Photo Credit: Josh Willink
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