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Motherhood: Getting the Big Stuff Right

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Dr. Meg Meeker

Every mother worries about failing her kids. We wonder what we will do if our kids turn against us, grow up to hate us or end up disliking their lives. These are natural worries but unfortunately these fears can drive us crazy. Many of us read parenting books on how to raise happy, well adjusted children who love God and then when those same kids become teenagers we fizzle. We get tired and the bigger fears surface because the teen years are upon us and now we believe that the inevitable will happen: our kids will turn to monsters.

So I have a suggestion. Why don’t we forget the small parenting details like saying the right thing at the right time, buying the perfect prom dress or making sure that our son gets the right football coach and start focusing on getting the big things right. I believe that when we do this, life gets a whole lot better for moms and their kids. After all, that’s all God expects us to do anyway. Here’s where we can start.

Be Kind. On any given day with a toddler and a grade school child, being nice can be tough. We’re tired. We’ve said things over and over and no one seems to listen. Frustration sets in and we snap at our kids. I’ve pulled the car over a few times in my life with a backseat full of fighting kids and I know firsthand how hard being nice can be. So I think that it’s important to train ourselves to be nice. Personally, I need some alone time in order to keep myself calm and less irritable. One of my friends needs to go outside and walk every day or else, she tells me, she will be mean (which is hard for me to imagine.) The point is, we mothers need to find whatever it is which helps us stay in better moods and do it. Some moms need to work a little, exercise, pray more or go out with friends periodically. These aren’t selfish things, they are important because being patient with our kids is crucial to good parenting.

Speak Well. We all know that when we are mad, the ones closest to us bear the brunt of our anger and unfortunately, many times that is our children. We often spend more time with our kids than anyone else and they hear everything that we say. They hear us talk to friends, our husbands, parents and neighbors. And of course, they take to heart what we say to them. Words are powerful. They can heal relationships, shape the identity of children or crush loved ones. Jesus always chose his words wisely and he used them to build people up not cut them down. So pay attention to your words and the tones you use.

Love Intently. As much as we’d like to believe that we are good at loving our children unconditionally, the truth is, we’re not always very good at it. We always want more from our kids. We want to show them that we love them but we also want them to succeed and love us back. Loving them when they’re flunking fifth grade, not liked by any of their friends or doing things to embarrass us is tough. But loving them when no one else will is what being a good mom is all about. That’s where we shine. So work at it and ask God to give you grace to do it a bit better.

Be Tough. Kids need to look at their moms and see stoicism. They won’t listen to a mother who is a pushover, who can’t make up her mind or who has no convictions. But they will listen to a mother who knows who she is and makes no apologies. One of the biggest mistakes we can make as mothers is to look like wimps to our kids. Forgoing discipline, refusing to make rules and stick with them and blurring boundaries makes kids crazy. Of course they will tell you the opposite but the kids who I see get in trouble aren’t the ones with strong mothers- they are those whose mothers have no spine. So assert who you are and your kids will stay close to your side.

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