Of the titles I have, my favorite is “mother of five.” When Chad, our youngest, went to first grade, I’d been a pre-school mom for 180 uninterrupted months. Two years from now, when Chad is 18, I will have mothered a high schooler for that same amount of time—15 straight years!
I told my mother that I really wanted to have another baby, to which she lovingly and wearily replied, “I am too tired to grandparent another, so honey, you are done!”
Moms have three important things in common. First, we share a deep, inexpressible love for our children. Second, we think about who they will become, and third, we fear that our “babies,” no matter their age, could be influenced by our increasingly godless culture.
If we ask, God will show us the most important truths our children need to grasp and how to ensure they learn them. There are foundational truths, however, that we know He wants us to teach.
God Loves Them
Success in a child’s life isn’t defined by his or her appearance, accomplishments, or popularity, but rather from having a relationship with a God who loves that child.
Someday, your little ones may become first chair in band, star athlete and president of student council, as well as valedictorian and voted most likely to succeed. Next, they may earn a four-year scholarship to Yale, a medical degree from Harvard resulting in a lucrative career, topped off with becoming the governor of your state.
Most people call that success. Although those are great achievements, if your children believe that they must earn your love through accomplishments, then they will also believe that God’s acceptance and love is performance-based. Later, when they experience failures, their amazing, accomplished-filled life will be in shambles.
Although our homes should be filled with joy and the celebration of accomplishment, God implores us to recognize that our kids’ value is never based on their good behavior or a job well done. A first word, a first step, and a first win in soccer are good things but not the most important thing.
We’re taught in Psalm 139:13-14: “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.”
From the time our children started kindergarten, I dropped them off smiling and instructed them, “Have a great day, and look for somebody lonely to sit with at lunch.”
After school, I asked who they’d helped that day. One night during prayers, Colt blurted out that he’d failed to stick up for someone. At lunch, his friends bullied Matt, an awkward seventh grader with severe facial deformities, but Colt had said nothing. Convicted, he confessed it to God. But, before “Amen,” I said, “Let’s invite Matt over after school tomorrow.”
Excitedly, we both raced to the phone. I dialed. Upon answering, Matt’s mother said they were moving in two days to escape his abusive father and added, “Matt’s never been invited to anyone’s house. I asked God to give him just one friend before we left.” Handing the phone to Colt, I knew God smiled. (Five lives were changed that day: a mother who saw God answer her prayer, a boy who finally felt accepted, bullies who heard about an act of kindness, another mom who witnessed her son’s faith in action, and a boy named Colt, who realized that he could share God’s love with others.)
When your child knows he is simply loved by God, he can then love others. Enjoy accomplishments, but focus on celebrating God’s creation—your child! Otherwise, your littles ones will be left with a false sense of self and spiritual void in their hearts.
Starting Point: Tell your children every day how much you and God love them. Share the godly attributes you see in them, like kindness, obedience, and truth, but always assure them that no matter what, you and God are for them.
God’s Word Shows Us How to Live
Satisfaction in your child’s life doesn’t come from keeping them busy and entertained. It comes from teaching, praying, and living God’s Word.
Early during my children’s lives, I spoke God’s Word when I was teaching, disciplining, praying, or celebrating with them. Quickly, they learned that if it’s in the Bible, then it must be followed.
One evening when Katelin, our oldest, was 2, she decided she wanted oatmeal for dinner. Though I explained that oatmeal was a breakfast good, she confidently replied, “Bible tell me eat oats!” So I did what any Bible-believing mom would do. I served her the biggest bowl of oatmeal she’d ever seen.
With God’s help, your children can embrace a belief system based on the truth of His Word, which leads to satisfied, productive, and righteous living.
In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, God tells us how to teach His commandements in the midst of our busy lives when He says, “These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
When our son, Clint, was 8, he had practice in the gym of a poor school. Sneaking out of practice, he crept to the cafeteria and stole a Popsicle. Later, through tears, he admitted his thievery to God and me. After he confessed his sin to the Lord, with a clean heart, he snuggled down until I said: “The Bible says that if you stole, quit stealing, and work with your hands, so you can give to those in need.”
The next morning, I took him back to school where he apologized to the principal and paid the cafeteria manager more than the cost of the Popsicle so that less fortunate students could have a free snack.
In other words, know God’s Word, and be ready to share it when opportunities arise. Equipping your kids mentally, physically, and emotionally will provide futile if you don’t give them tools to experience spiritual life through Jesus Christ.
Starting Point: Pray, study, and live God’s Word. Then, take every opportunity to read and apply the Bible in real-life situations. Pray the truth of the Scripture with them. And with God’s strength, let them see how you honor God in the way you live out your own faith.
Article from HomeLife Magazine
Terry Ann Kelly has an expansive background in public speaking for women’s retreats and other events. She taught public speaking and business communication classes for Baylor University, Belmont University, and Dallas Baptist University. She finds her great fulfillment in meeting the needs of her husband and five children.