Finding My Way Through New Beginnings Day 6: Parenthood
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, ESV)
My husband and I were married for five years before we had kids. We were young when we got married, and we both had things we wanted to do before we started a family. We also wanted to figure out being married first, before we brought a baby into our equation. We traveled, I taught 2nd grade, we learned a lot about each other as individuals, we enjoyed a quiet and clean house, and then we finally felt ready to bring a baby into our lives. In case you couldn’t tell, we’re both very type A planner individuals. Some people enjoy surprise pregnancies and can handle them with ease. I applaud these people. We are not them. It was important for us to feel totally prepared before we started having kids.
One of the most important pieces of advice I can give to new parents is this: do what works for your family. Pressure to conform to others’ expectations has always been around, but I think it’s much worse today with social media. We feel we need to do things a certain way because other people are, but the sooner you start doing things the way you choose to do them the more peaceful you will feel as a parent. God has entrusted those children to you, and you specifically. No one knows your kids, your situation, your parenting style, or your feelings better than you. When our daughter Tessa was in the hospital with a new feeding tube, the doctors told me she had to keep an entire feeding down before they would let her go home. She had been extremely sick with gastrointestinal complications, and her stomach was not able to hold that much liquid. Every time they gave her a full feeding she would throw up and we would have to start all over. Finally, I decided enough was enough. As her mom, I knew that her best chance for recovery was at her own pace at home. On her next feeding, I closed the curtains to her hospital room, paused her feeding, dumped out half the bag, and restarted the feeding. Guess what? She kept it all down. I continued doing this little by little with each feeding and we were able to go home, where she completely recovered. Now, I’m not out here advising you to go against your doctor’s advice; that is certainly not the point I’m trying to make. Tessa had been in and out of the hospital enough times for me to feel comfortable doing what I did, knowing she would be fine. What I am telling you, however, is to do what you feel is best for your children. You know them better than anyone. You don’t need to be the perfect Pinterest mom to show your kids that you love them. Your kids will be fine if they eat dino nuggets every now and then. It’s ok if they don’t know all their shapes when they start Pre-k. You do the best that you can do for your family, working with your spouse and in the sight of God.
The other extremely important advice I can offer as your children get older is this: read the Bible with them. Spend time as a family reading the Bible together, whether it’s before school, after dinner, before bed, or some other time that works in your schedule. It can be a children’s Bible, or an action Bible, or the King James Bible—whatever sparks their interest and creates conversations. Our kids learn by watching our actions, and what better way to show them the importance of God’s truths than by making it a priority to read His Word together. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119: 9-11).
I heard this quote on the radio the other day and it was a wonderful reminder to me: “You give your children four gifts throughout their life: time, education, spiritual, and love. Be sure to make each gift count.”