Raising children is hard. Our worldly culture makes it even harder. Throw Christian culture into the mix and, sadly, sometimes you have another hurdle.
I see the body of Christ as an extension of my family. I don’t know how it goes down in your church, but in my church we promise as a body to help in the raising of covenant children not our own. I love that. I love knowing that when sweet octogenarian Mrs. Dot Wood says “I do” to the question set forth from the Book of Church Order to the congregation- that she really means she does. She will tell my kids to quit running in the sanctuary, she will remember their birthdays and special events, she will praise them when they need praising and scold them when they need scolding. She doesn’t talk down to them or act like they are beneath her notice, a nuisance, a bother. Not Dot. My kids KNOW Mrs. Dot loves them. And I know she loves me. She is always quick with a personal story or exhortive word when all I see are my failures as a mom.
So why can’t we moms offer each other the same grace? Please don’t tell me it only surfaces later in life!
We compare ourselves to each other, compare our kids and tend to end up feeling very guilty and defeated or very smug and proud.
When I interact with friends of my children, am I harsh? Do they know that I love them? When I see them in sin, do I mention it to them and/or to their parents? Do I pray for the children that God has placed me in authority over, whether I’m a Sunday School teacher, Bible study leader, youth worker, coach, teacher, or employer?
Honesty: conviction is setting in here.
As my children get older they are really seeing how not everyone does things the way we do things…I’ll be honest: sometimes they think it’s weird. But just like I don’t know the ins and outs of why you do what you do in your home and with your kids, you don’t know those things about us either. I say we as women…moms…Christians…should do a better job of encouraging one another in the most challenging role we face by doing two things: First, let’s be more generous with the grace to each other. Second, let’s as a group try to remember some truths about children and parenting. Feel free to add any others you come up with…
1. I do not trust that my children will always represent you correctly to me, nor me to you. Let’s not jump the gun in taking what a 12 year old says happened as gospel fact without a little bit of investigation, especially if it has made you angry.
2. My child is not always the victim, and neither is yours.
3. My child is not always the instigator, and neither is yours.
4. If you see something in my child’s life that concerns you, by all means please tell me. But tell ME…not another one of my children, not another friend.
5. Let’s not verbally criticize each other, each other’s home, each other’s kids…especially not in front of our own children.
6. Note to self: If I say something negative about my child’s friend and my child hears it, my child WILL eventually tell that friend.
7. Let’s keep short accounts. Don’t let things build and build until you can’t be in the same room with me anymore.
8. Don’t be afraid to bring it up…whatever it is. Real friends ought to be able to discuss the hard stuff. The Father is glorified when we understand each other and the truth. Let’s be honest.
9. Let’s ask each other for prayer more often. Let’s stay connected.
10. Let’s show this list to our husbands. If they aren’t all in, we’re sunk.
11. Let’s remember that children are usually more perceptive than adults. The harsh reality is that my kids know how you feel about them, just like yours are on to me.
12. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt.
13. Sometimes you may have to drive more than me, or sometimes I may have to host more than you. Let’s just let that be okay…okay? In the whole scheme of life, does it really even matter?
14. Let’s not hold others’ children to a higher standard than we hold our own.
15. Let’s remember that our children are just as sinful as everyone else’s and stop pretending that they’re not. This goes for ourselves as well! We are all a bunch of hot messes and the sooner we figure that out, the sooner we can stop trying to pretend we have it all together.
When we fail at all this, and we will fail at all this, let’s just be quick to repent of our lack of love for each other. The Father has placed us and our children in each others lives for very specific reasons- and He is good.