Monday, 3 September 2012

Managing your children...


As we move onto the topic of managing our children, I realise that this can be a mine-field, causing an avalanche of emotions for a variety of reasons. We are going to cover this chapter in a week – so please bear with us!

People who have children can be very territorial over the methods they use to bring up their kids, and the ways they have decided to discipline and reward them. There have been wars and rumours of wars in families because someone happened to mention something wrong with a niece or nephew… or dared to shout at a child they thought was in the wrong. No one wants to be told that what they are doing is wrong… and people can become defensive even when nothing has been said! I know, as my wonderful little sister has a huge range of very different ideas of child rearing than me, and I have to really focus on not thinking she is criticising my ways, just because she chooses to try something different. (Love you G!!) So I’m not even going to go there!!

The second reason that this section of the book is being covered in a week rather than two is that I want to also be sensitive to those of you who maybe can’t have children, or those of you who don’t have any due to choice. I want this to be an inclusive blog, encouraging us, but I know too many people who have been hurt by people going on and on about their kids (of which I am very guilty) and not being sensitive to their inability to conceive. If this applies to anyone I know personally – let me apologise now. This is such a sensitive topic and I think most of us just don’t know how to let you know we are here for you and love you and are praying for you.

So as we race through the topic of children, I want to concentrate on the Bible and on using Scripture to remind us of the blessing children are to our lives, and to help encourage each of you in this wonderful journey of motherhood.

We’re going to start by looking at four different ways we need to focus on our children.

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN

Now I’m not talking about the whole school / home-school debate here! Most of the children around us go to the local school, although I do know several wonderful ladies who home-school their children. Personally speaking I wouldn’t have the patience to do it and I am extremely blessed to have a school close by, where each of my four children has a Christian teacher this year.

No, when I talk about teaching our children I am talking about the type of teaching that we read about in Deuteronomy 6:6-7.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

My husband and I are very lucky to have two boys who have already made a personal commitment to God, and two others who love Him but aren’t quite old enough to have made a proper decision yet. It is one of my greatest joys when one of the boys asks us a question about God or when my eldest chooses to read his Bible over any other book. Each morning we read the Bible over breakfast and each day we put on the Armour of God – we actually DO the actions with each bit and talk about why we need to put it on – you should see us all standing in the living room putting on our invisible armour – hilarious but such a special time!!

God has given us the blessing of children, and has given us a very clear command that we are to teach our children His ways, His Word and His love. Whether it’s a conversation in the car on the way to school, a question asked as you do the dishes or a prayer said before bedtime, we must focus on telling our kids about God and what He has done for them. And to see them respond is perhaps one of God’s greatest blessings to us – truly tears worthy!! J

TRAIN YOUR CHILDREN

Again, I am not going to go into specifics here – there are lots of brilliant websites and blogs that can take you through what you should and shouldn’t do in training your children. The important thing here is that we take the time to train them. And believe me when I say that to do it properly and consistently take time – a lot of time. It is very easy to focus on it one day when we’ve had a great night’s sleep and feel on top of the world… but rather much harder to keep doing it when your toddler has been up all night being sick (or naughty!) and you feel at the end of your tether. The one thing I would say is that you never have to do this alone. God is our refuge and strength, especially on the days when everything is going wrong and it seems much easier to put the kids in front of a DVD and get a takeaway rather than make something healthy and putting them to bed at the right time. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for a little TV and am very fond of takeaways – but not at the expense of training my kids to do right and certainly not because I am too tired to care - although to be honest I have done both…

Proverbs 22:6 reads

“Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it”

Ladies, if you have children, we need to take the time to focus on training them well. As one Pastor said we aren’t called to raise ‘good little boys and girls’ – we are called to raise ‘GREAT MEN AND WOMEN OF GOD’ – the next generation of leaders for our country and the next generation of missionaries to the world. Let’s take the time to focus on it and give them the best start possible.

LOVE YOUR CHILDREN

This one is self-explanatory, but sometimes we need a quick reminder! In our house, most days by 8pm I have a very quiet house. My youngest three boys are sleeping, my eldest is reading quietly in his room and this mama has some time to herself. When I sit back with my cup of coffee and relax, it is very easy to think with love about the four gorgeous children sleeping like angels in their beds… HOWEVER… if at 8pm the picture looks different – if one of the little ones won’t go to bed, my eldest is still doing his homework and dragging his heels at it, and I have a splitting headache from the noise of the crying tot, I can very easily focus on wishing for peace, quiet and wishing they would all just GO AWAY and go to sleep quickly. Although I love my children with my whole heart, sometimes it can get lost on nights like those…

But the Bible tells us to encourage each other to love our children, and to take the time to focus on that feeling…  Titus 2:4 says

“Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children…”

So the next time your evening goes a little awry, stop and remember that no matter how they are right now, they are still your little angels, and a true gift from God!

PRIZE YOUR CHILDREN

Following on from loving your children, we need to cherish them and appreciate the gift that they are. I mentioned at the start that I know a couple of beautiful, lovely women who can’t have children, and my heart totally goes out to them. The thought that I would be in the same boat only crossed my mind when we got married and I started to think about starting a family. I automatically assumed it was going to happen exactly as I had planned – four kids, evenly spaced out and all angels!! After a very short period of time it did work out like that, but I can remember the first could of months when I found out I wasn’t pregnant and feeling as if my world was going to fall apart. Even though it was only a few months before I did get pregnant, it was then that I realised that having children isn’t about me. It is a gift given to us from God our Father, and when I did get pregnant I was ever so grateful to Him.

I have no idea whatsoever why God blesses some of us with children and why some wonderful godly women have their wombs closed, and I guess that is one of those questions that will only be answered in heaven, but for those of us with children, never ever take them for granted or stop thanking God for them.

Psalm 127:3 tells us

“Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him”

And I truly hope and pray that we never forget that God blessed us with the gift of life growing inside of us, or with a child desperately needing a home which you had available… whatever way you became a mama, God knew what He was doing when He picked YOU to be the mother of these children, and no one else could do a better job. In the midst of the hardest times in my life I cling to the fact that God picked me to bring my four boys into this world – little old me with all my faults and insecurities, all my impatience and shouting, all my love and cuddles… He picked ME. No one else.

I pray, over the next week, as we look at the ten disciplines and tips on how to love and be there for your children, that we will feel closer to our children, focus on loving them more and of course, grow closer to God our Heavenly Father in the process.

Keep shining… J

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