Nothing in this world is more precious to me than my family, second only to God. Nothing has brought more joy or taken more hard work than parenting!
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! Ps.127:3-5 ESV
Here are some things learned from my own experience as a mom to help you parent well.
Trust God with your children – parent with joy, not fear. What your kids need most from you is to be ENJOYED! That joy flows out of the depth of your trust in God. Because you love your kids so deeply and realize how vulnerable they are, it’s easy be tempted to fear for their wellbeing. When you parent out of fear, you tend to look for “foolproof strategies” to make sure they turn out alright. Those don’t exist. They bind kids with too many rules and communicate our anxieties to them. He’s got them in the palm of his hands, just like He does us. Relax and enjoy them!
Build strong attachment. This is built from the time they’re born with eye contact, affection, touch, undistracted time with them, attuning to them – their needs and interests, showing kindness, appreciation, and empathy. Strong attachments with parents set your kids up for strong relationships with God and others.
A strong marriage is a secure haven that builds security in children. Your marriage is like the foundation of your home. If it is strong and secure, your kids will internalize that security in their own souls. We prioritized our marriage relationship, investing time and energy into “just us”, so we could be that kind of secure haven for our kids. They noticed and absorbed that. We had weekly dates even if we didn’t leave the house – setting aside time for us alone, to communicate and build intimacy. We had nights out for dinner and walks when we could. We did an overnight getaway every 2-3 months. Our kids later told us how much they appreciated what we modeled for them. It gave them security to know we loved each other and were committed to deepening that love for a lifetime. They do the same now in their marriages.
Million-Dollar Lessons from Ten-Dollar mistakes. Holy Spirit inspired us to pray this prayer over and over from the time our kids were tiny. “Lord, will you help our children to learn million-dollar lessons from ten-dollar mistakes?” I think parents make a big mistake trying to raise ‘perfect kids’, employing all the ‘right principles’, with the goal that they will do everything right! They, like us, are going to make mistakes and learn from them. But some mistakes have small consequences and others have huge ones. What we were asking for was God’s grace to help them to learn BIG lessons from those $10 mistakes. We watched the Lord answer those prayers repeatedly. If you model humility and learning from your mistakes, your kids will pick it up from you.
Recruit them to your team! We recruited our kids to be on our team and made sure they knew we were on their team. How? We coached them in the most important game on earth – to take their place in the kingdom of God, the ‘game’ in which we are all key team-players. Drawing from our own relationship with God, we helped them see that they were significant players on God’s team, on our family team, and in their own spheres of influence. As their life callings became clear, we got behind them, affirming them and cheering them on. We were proud to be Team Sullivant and we still are!
Spirit-led teachable moments. How do you train up a child in the way he/she should go? By being led by the Holy Spirit! Knowing the Scriptures is one thing, knowing when and how to apply them with your kids is another. We spent plenty of time with our kids, were ‘present’ and attentive to them and at the same time, listening to Holy Spirit. Teachable moments arose in everyday life that we used as parables to teach them about who God is, their identity and purpose, and wisdom for life. We had the joy and privilege of leading our kids to receive Jesus at young ages. They also came to know the leading of Holy Spirit and understand His ways in their youngest years. Today they still walk with Him and are training their littles in the way they should go. We are so very grateful for this blessing in our lives!
Culture of honor. Michael and I knew we wanted to create a culture of honor in our family. Every opportunity we had in everyday life, we spoke affirmation to them and celebrated their wins, big and small. Every birthday, we went around the table and affirmed in one another the outstanding attributes we loved about each other. We still do that today as adults and with our littles. We celebrated rites of passage – when they accepted Jesus, baptisms, coming of age, graduations, weddings – honor was and is a regular feature of our family culture.
I believe there’s truly no greater honor in this world than being a parent!
I wrote this article on parenting for the magazine As For Me and My House, pictured above – with lots more photos than I can post here! If you’d like to read more in this FREE magazine for women, click below, subscribe and enjoy! There’s lots of great stuff in it!
I hope and pray for your families to be blessed beyond measure! They are your living legacy.