In Titus 2:4 we read, "That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children".
Why does God find it necessary to have the young women taught to love their husbands and children? Doesn't loving them come naturally? Obviously it's easy for anyone to show and feel love when they're pleased. It's when we're dis pleased that it's difficult.
Loving our husbands and children properly is an ongoing learning process and the evidence of love is found in works and actions. Those who had this modeled for them by mothers and grandmothers are way ahead. If you don't have these ready-made role models, I encourage you to find a lady in your church or homeschool group who you admire and then seek to learn from her. Today I'm listing my Top Ten most important things a mother can do to love her children.
1. Love their father. It sounds obvious, but our children are aware that a big part of life is finding love. Romance is the #1 thing people sing about, write about and make movies about. The world's idea of hot romance is fornication not long term, happy and fulfilling marriage. That is just a pipe dream. Or is it? How we model romance in our homes is extremely important. Children who see their parents deeply in love, still playful, still swooning, still mad for eachother - will long for what we have and be willing to wait for the one God has for them. So love their father and love him well. Show them that romance is alive and well right under their noses, giving them hope for their own future love story.
2. Become unrufflable. Don't let your children rile or ruffle you. Mothers must learn the art of remaining calm, cool and collected. Be quick to love and slow to anger. Very slow. In fact, our anger should be so seldom seen that when it does appear, our children will recognize the grave need to respond soberly. A mother who flies off the handle throughout each day at her children is nullifying her authority and losing their respect. Let your love shine brightly even when giving correction and command your children with sovereignty. A mother that does this is loving her children well, confirming her authority and gaining their respect.
3. Always mean what you say. A small child who begs for something and is first told no, he cannot have it but with excess whining is then given the thing, has learned that his mother rarely, if ever, means what she says. This kind of mother doesn't realize it, but she is lying to her child. He will relate his mother to a mine field where one never knows where a safe footing can be found. Saying what you mean and upholding it to the end gives children a firm foundation. They know they can count on their mother to be the same - always. Children need repetition.
4. Provide structure for your children. Children like to know what is going to happen to a certain degree. Giving them a schedule, rules and routines causes them to feel secure, teaches them responsibility and makes them feel loved. Children who left to create their own order of the day are on a fast-track to self-centeredness. Don't be afraid to run your household. Some children really intimidate their mothers and will mow them down without thinking twice. Mama, if that's you, you must be stronger than your strongest-willed child. Never use anger. Anger at children is always derived at ourselves; we are angry that we have failed to cause them behave correctly. Give your children a list of what they're expected to do. And always make the "bar" low enough so they will be triumphant in their daily accomplishments. As they get older, progessively raise the "bar" to match their growing capabilities.
5, Play and laugh with your children. When children are very little, this is an easy natural thing to do. But when they are older, many parents forget how to play with their teens. But joy, play and laughter remain the sweetest part of life no matter what our age, so don't forget to initiate play time with your kids. Playing family games regularly helps keep this important aspect alive in our family. We love laughing together and playing fun games gives us regular opportunity to do so. Whatever fun and wholesome activity you can think will work to tie the strings of love between you and your kids.
6. Give your children GOOD food. It's amazing how food is so strongly connected with contentedness, love and security. From birth, our entire world is surrounded by food. Infants should always be held close and cuddled while being fed (optimally with mother's milk). Such cozy comfort reinforces the association with love and nourishment. Good food is the source of good health. Cutting nutritional corners should be a rare exception. Have a plan so you can put healthful, delicious meals on your table every day. It provides much more than good nutrition; it is love in the most practical sense. The sight of a woman in her kitchen preparing good food to nourish her family leaves children with an indelible memory of the love of their mother.
7. Give your children fresh air and sunshine. Too many children are spending way too many hours indoors these days and subsequently missing out on so much. As much as it's possible for you, encourage your children to play or spend time out of doors. Investing in a patio set where they can sit and do their coloring or their school work helps, too. Depending on their ages, trampolines, play equipment, sand boxes, hay bale targets for archery all make excellent outdoor activities. If these aren't feasible, frequent hikes or picnicking in the park are adequate substitutes. Children love it when mom watches all their daring feats. It's important for them to show off their growing prowess to you and to receive confirmation that they are indeed fine children growing healthy, strong and brave. I can't count the number of times my children said, "Mom, watch this!" (I always watch, smile and praise their newest "feats".) Which leads to the next point.
8. Encourage, exhort and praise your children! Our children will make many mistakes - we all do. But focusing too strongly on their mistakes can cause them to have a downcast spirit. When they do something wrong, quickly correct their mistake and move on. They will learn in time. Ladies, we have the tendency to lecture. Learning the art of "short & sweet" makes a world of difference! Focus strongly on their good attributes and praise, praise, praise! Kids thrive on encouragement. Did they remember to pick up their wet towel? Praise them for it! Did they remember to clear the table without being asked? Shower them with encouragement. Tell them how impressed you are with how responsible they are becoming. So be your children's biggest cheer leader! And when correction is needed, those spoonfuls of sugar really helps that medicine go down.
9. Smile at your children. Have you ever stopped to take note of the expression you wear on your face throughout the day? We can become practiced in smiling just as easily as we can scowling. I've sometimes checked my face in the middle of the day and been shocked to see a serious, concerned look - and nothing serious or concerning was happening at the moment. We moms can have so many things on our minds weighing us down that it's easy to have an expression of stress, worry or unhappiness. No matter what is going on in our lives, though, our trust in the Lord can help us cultivate a genuine smile. So practice smiling and check throughout the day to make sure your children see a cheerful mama!
10. Read with your children. Reading together creates a warm and cozy experience between mother and child. Picture books are fun to read when they are little and letting the child help tell the story. My children are older now, but we are still reading together. We've read through the Little House series a few times through as well as many, many good books. I will have to post a list of our favorites sometime soon. This year we are reading through the Bible and it's been such a special time together. We started in the book of Joshua using A Beka's "Joshua & Judges" book. My kids enjoyed the companion guide but what I found most surprising (and wonderful!) was that they really preferred reading the Bible without it.
Loving our children yields monumental rewards and should be on the forefronts of our minds every single day. The simple things I've listed here have made a huge impact on my family and helped me to love my children well. I hope they will help you, too!