Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Being a mom that matters (part 2)

by Mary Southerland

So much of who we are as men and women is rooted in the parent/child relationship. I believe that my role as a mother will greatly affect the kind of woman my daughter will become. I also believe that moms are the primary teachers in a child's life.

In last week's article, we shared three steps we can take to be the moms God wants us to be:

1. Be a mom who loves God.
2. Be a mom who prays continually.
3. Be a mom who gives time.

4. Be a mom who encourages!

"So encourage each other and give each other strength." (1 Thess. 5:11 NCV)

When we encourage our children, we are depositing strength in them. We need to be careful to keep their emotional deposits in balance. Many kids are in emotional bankruptcy because constant withdrawals of criticism are made with few deposits of encouragement. Our job is to study our kids and discover their strengths and weaknesses. We need to understand that many times, their greatest weaknesses may very well become their greatest strengths.

As a child, I was very stubborn! That stubbornness often got me into trouble, but it also made me the survivor of some very hard times. We need to look for the good things in our children and draw them into the spotlight. In other words, become their "encourager" and their "cheerleader." Everyone needs a cheerleader.

When our son, Jered, was in second grade, a boy in his class was obnoxious and irritating. No one liked him. One Monday morning, he came to school with both arms in a cast from wrist to shoulder. The teacher explained that he would need a friend for the next six weeks, someone who could help him with homework, eat his lunch ... go to the restroom ... get the idea? The classroom fell silent, no one meeting the teacher's eyes. Finally, Jered said, "I'll do it." At the end of four weeks, Jered said one day, "You know, mom. He's not that bad." At the end of six weeks, the other children were beginning to include this boy and even volunteered to help him. But the most amazing transformation was in the boy himself. He had become sweet and kind. He just needed a cheerleader. Maybe that is all your child needs. Be a cheerleader for your children.
5. Be a mom who laughs!

"A happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit drains your strength." (Prov. 17:22 NCV)

Moms, we need to lighten up, or as my daughter says, "Chill, Mom!" Kids are fun! Find ways to bring joy and laughter into your home. Jered is a big hunk of a football player, but occasionally, I have to remind him of the fact that I can still take him. He will make some irritating comment, tease me, or poke me in the ribs. I warn him and then I see the gleam in his eye as he takes one more shot. I then begin chasing him around the house. Jered inevitably starts laughing so hard that, when I catch him, he is totally helpless. It is quite a sight to see! Moms are the thermostats of the home and need to keep the emotional setting on joy. Children get most of their first impressions of God from their parents. I want my kids to know that God is a God of joy and laughter. Kids need a mom who laughs!

6. Be a mom who hugs!

"One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch them and bless them." (Luke 18:15 NLT)

Our children need moms who touch them and demonstrate to them healthy physical affection. Children need and crave physical affection. It is a God-given need that is meant to be met in God-given ways. There is healing in a mother's touch. Start early and never stop. It is a terrible shock for kids to have the hugging stop just at the age when they need it the most.

One day, I grabbed our daughter, Danna, in a hug and kissed her cheek. As I walked away, I looked back to see her wiping off that kiss. She caught my hurt look and said, "Don't worry, Mom. I'm just rubbing it in!" I know. She's good ... and has become an affectionate young woman. Be a mom who hugs her kids!

7. Be a mom who disciplines!

"The correction of discipline is the way to life." (Prov. 6:23 NLT)

Kids want and need discipline. Discipline is a hedge of protection in the life of a child. Part of our job as a parent is to tend that hedge, to keep it strong and in place. If we are not careful, every day can dissolve into a never-ending battle for control. As parents, we need to let go of what we can and hold our ground on what we can't.

Discipline principles:

1. Be consistent.
2. Discipline from love ... not anger.
3. Pick your battles.
4. Don't expect children to act like adults.
5. Teach them that there are consequences to choices.
6. Realize that every child is different.
7. Don't discipline until you have control of your emotions.

This last point is major! We are the adults who should be able to control emotions. If we don't, neither will our children.

"Foolish people lose their tempers, but wise people control theirs." (Prov. 29:11 NCV)

Pick your battles of discipline and wage them with emotions under control. Whatever you do, don't put the light out in their eyes. Kids need a mom who disciplines!

8. Be a mom who forgives!

"Get along with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you." (Col. 3:13 NCV)

We teach children how to forgive others by how we forgive them. Forgiveness is part of every healthy relationship so when we practice forgiveness, we are modeling healthy relationships for them. We also teach our children about God's forgiveness by how we forgive. Be quick to forgive your child but be quicker to ask your child's forgiveness. My children are very used to hearing me say, "I am so sorry! I blew it. Please forgive me."

One morning, I had to apologize to my daughter before she even got to school. I got up tired and grouchy to find that Danna was not moving fast enough for me. I didn't like the clothes she picked out to wear. I didn't like what she was saying or doing or how she was saying and doing it. I didn't like the fact that she kept her cool while I lost mine. Therefore, I did what any mature parent would do. I threw a tantrum and grounded her for it! Yes, I have provided many opportunities for my children to practice forgiveness. I pray that it has made them more forgiving of themselves and of others. Be a mom who is quick to forgive.

Finally ...

"Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him." (Psalm 127:3 NLT)

Being a mom is the hardest job on earth. It brings out the best and the worst in you. I know that motherhood requires great sacrifice and limitless energy. But to invest your time and best efforts into a child, to watch that child grow and develop, is to be part of the creative majesty of life itself. Today, commit with me to seek God's power and plan to be a mom who really matters. 

Before I was a mom

  • I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.
  • I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
  • I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a mom

  • I had never been puked on.
  • Pooped on.
  • Chewed on.
  • Peed on.
  • I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts and I slept all night.

Before I was a mom

  • I never held down a screaming child so doctors could do tests or give shots.
  • I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
  • I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
  • I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a mom

  • I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put them down.
  • I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.
  • I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.
  • I never knew that I could love someone so much.
  • I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a mom

  • I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.
  • I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
  • I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child.
  • I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.

Before I was a mom

  • I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.
  • I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a mom.
  • I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much, before I was a Mom.

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