One thing I did this year for Mother's day was buy a large picture matte that was made for events such as a wedding shower or birthday party where everyone signs their name and writes a word of encouragement. I asked my almost 3 year old and my 5 year old what they loved about their mother and here is what they said:
Grace (5 yrs old)
- She snuggles me
- She plays with me
- She makes me s'mores
Elise (almost 3 yrs old)
- She pushes me on the swing
- She kisses me a lot
- She plays with me
I then asked Grace what she thought that mom taught her more than anything else. She said "To be nice to others."
Now, as I was writing these things down to use for my bride's gift I realized that there are two over-arching truths regarding parenting that I learned from my wife. These are critical to the success we have as parents.
- Be there - both of our girls mentioned that momma played with them. But all of them have one requirement, that my wife be there. It would be impossible for my wife to snuggle my daughter if my wife was not there. If we want to invest in our children we have to be there to experience life with them. When we are there we must be there fully, meaning we may need to turn the phone/computer/tablet off and invest in our families. What is scary about this truth is that someone is always going to be there. They are kids and lets face it, they have to have someone making sure they don't burn the place down. At the end of the day they have someone who is there, that person should be us more than others.
- Lead them to Jesus - Grace's answer to my last question about what momma taught them seems like an answer that someone who knows Jesus or someone who doesn't could answer, but let me tell you from experience that the idea of being nice to others is rooted in the fact of the gospel and what Christ did for us. Every opportunity my wife gets she impacts them with the gospel. She always, and I mean always leads them to Jesus. She disciplines with scripture and explains the way we love others is a reflection of our love for God. I had a parent tell me once, "You have to make your kids hungry for Jesus", and I feel like my bride does that. We have to lead them to Jesus. Again, the scary thing is that our kids being led is not an option. They are going to be led somewhere, and there are only two options out there. Jesus or the world. The world is trying hard every day to get our kids to follow it, we must always lead them to Jesus.
One final remark I will make is that if we do these two things with excellence Satan will continually attack us and remind us of all the mistakes we make in parenting. We all do them and we always will, but know that God gives each child their parents for one reason, to bring Glory to His name. If we keep our focus on that then everything else will take care of itself.
I write this in honor of my wife Elizabeth, who sacrificially and selflessly loves our two girls and me every day.