There is nothing that compares with the joy that a child can bring. My heart felt like it was bursting at the seams with the birth of each one of my children. Children don't bring a set of instructions, but God has written his laws on the hearts of men so that we know instinctively what to do with our babies.
Today I want to share a little of what I have learned over the years concerning loving a child the way he/she needs to be loved. What kids need can be quite different from what a parent wants to give.
Everyone knows that in infancy, all babies need nourishment (mother's milk is best!), warmth, attention, enrichment, snuggling, sleep, etc. Every normal parent instinctively wants to provide their children with the best they can possibly give.
One of the needs every child has (beyond food, shelter, clothing) is boundaries.
Children don't understand how needful boundaries are anymore than they understand how needful green veggies are. And they can react to them similarly sometimes. But in general when boundaries exist, their world feels safer and they instinctually love the enforcer of those boundaries. The sooner you start implementing boundaries, rules and limitations for a child, the better. An infant soon needs boundaries.
Mothers must grow a thick skin in order to establish who is the boss - and it isn't the child. It doesn't matter what his age is. If he's living under your roof, eating your food and enjoying your provisions, Mom and Dad are the boss.
It is simply a matter of deciding how you want your children to behave and knowing that your influence will determine whether you get sweet darlings or monstrous tyrants. Do you want your child to whine, beg, demand and scream? No parent in their right mind does. But it's happening all around us. I can't go anywhere without hearing it.
I helped in a co-op of homeschoolers for 3 hours a week and one hour I help with preschoolers. I love preschoolers. I worked as a preschool teacher for 5 years before I was married and I know how the little darlings tick. And truly, they are so much fun!
But the parents and the lead teacher in that co-op were all SO clueless when it came to giving these poor children what they needed. Boundaries. Firm, consistent, calm and loving boundaries.
I have written before about the modern mother's vicious cycle of questioning her children. So after being in a roomful of preschoolers and watching them interact with their mothers and a teacher (who is just another homeschooling mom) I've come to the realization that this problem is more like a terrible plague! How did it come to this?
I suspect it started many years ago with latch-key children who lost their mothers to her 'career' and quickly learned to fend for themselves. They became experts at microwaving food, watching tv and imitating their peers. But what that generation produced was a bunch of women (and men) who know very, very little about parenting. And a functional home life. And being a wife since, sadly, many of those mothers also ended up divorced.
But I'm very encouraged to see a whole new generation of women emerging who want to stay at home with their children and learn the domestic skills they were never taught and to raise their children the old fashioned way - with mom at home. Sometimes I see a look in their eyes of quiet desperation as if to say, "How do I do this? Is it supposed to be this hard? My children are out of control!"
The answer is, no, it is not supposed to be that hard. The problem isn't out of control children - they are just a reflection of their parents and environment. The problem is out of control parents.
Good parenting (and being a good wife) begins by looking into your own heart and pulling up every ugly, bitter root and throwing it out. Bitter roots start with a bitterness toward the Lord. Often from something bad that happened in your life and somewhere inside you are mad at him..
The bible says that God "scourges" every son whom he receives. This means when we're adopted into his family, he doesn't treat his 'real kids' any different than his adopted ones. In fact he's forgotten which is which. So when bad things happen, it tries us and tests us. Have you ever tried something? Sure, we all do. We wonder if the milk is spoiled so we test it by smelling it. We try a new gadget we bought to see if it works. If it doesn't, we send it back or get it repaired.
Don't just say you believe in the LORD. The devils believe and tremble. Do you obey him?
Pray that God will keep your heart tender.
We grow closer to the Lord in times of trouble. And when he is faithful during the storms of life, which he always is, we come out on the other side having experienced his goodness and faithfulness. Then when the next trial comes, we remember that the Lord is faithful and we're more patient in times of trouble. Troubles are really blessings in disguise.
Praying that the Lord will help you pull up every bitter root in your heart toward him is step one. Then while you're at it, let go of bitterness completely. For every other person in your life. Do a Bible word study on bitterness.
When we have bitterness brewing in our hearts, we're not fooling anyone. They can "smell" it! It is evident in facial expressions, reactions, body language, So get rid of it and replace it with the Word.
Reading the King James Bible has produced pronounced fruit in my life unlike any other Bible 'version'. I am continually amazed at how God works in my heart through his Word.
Giving children the needed boundaries is only affective if your heart is free of bitterness.
If you listen to Dr. Phil or Oprah or psychologists, you are getting man's philosophies. God's word is sharper than any two edged sword. There is no soul that his skillful surgeon's hand cannot fix. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. A true believer can smile and be cheerful knowing that the Lord is working things for good to them that love him and are called according to his purposes.
Speak to your children with kindness. Show appreciation when it's genuine.
There should be a calm air of expectancy that they will mind you. Don't give them what they whine for, beg for, fuss or fight for. Doing so only reinforces the ugly behavior. Kids have tremendous self preservation instincts that kick in when their best interest is at stake. They'll catch on quickly. This is the key to gaining their obedience. But you must also gain their respect.
The wise mother will not turn everything her child does - good or bad - into a stage production. As women, we are more emotional and our tendency is to dramatize. Resist it. Giving a child an unwarranted attention one way or another can cause their self importance to swell to unwieldily heights. Not good! Kids must know they are loved and important but they must learn that life is about serving and giving to others. Their focus must be constantly pointed toward the needs of others. Beginning in your own home and then spilling over onto others.
Teach them young what Christ Jesus said - that in order to find your life, you must lose it, for the Lord's sake.
There's so much more I could say but I am trying to write a post not a book! :) I'll just sum up. Children want and need your love - and your love is communicated by loving them enough to give them boundaries, rules and limitations.
They will need to live within societal boundaries all of their lives and training them when they're young to accept and be thankful for the home that your husband provides for you all is where it all starts. Give them boundaries, exhibit genuine thankfulness, peace and joy and they will mimic you.
Does it sound like I've just encouraged you to do the impossible? Ask the Lord to make the needed accommodations. He is able as long as you are willing. And yes, it is a miracle. When we abide in the Lord, trust him and seek him, he comes in and sups with us and miraculous things happen. He knows who trusts in him. He really does. And he changes us from the inside out.