This past Friday at our MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, we had a panel of mentor moms answer questions that we had about parenting. These experienced moms (some now parenting teenagers, and some with adult children and now grandmothers) are with our MOPS group each week and are a wonderful encouragement and support. But, this was a special time for us to pick their brains, so to speak.
Our coordinator, Alisha, facilitated the question and answer time. She opened the morning with this question for all the mentor moms to answer: 'What is the single most important piece of advice you would give to a young mom?' I'm sure that was a tough one for them to answer...after all how do you decide on just one piece of advice? I think our mentor moms did a wonderful job. And, here is a summary of each of their answers to this question.
1. Let praise outweigh correction. When you look at your child, let him see that you are pleased with him.
2. Maintain your authority as the parent. Love your child, but don't try to be his friend.
3. Spend time with your child. It goes quickly, so don't take these moments for granted. If you have multiple children, be sure to spend one on one time with each of them.
4. Have a family devotional time. Make it fun and make it part of your regular routine.
5. Respect their father. Our children watch our attitudes very closely, so guard how you speak and act toward their father.
Each of these pieces of wisdom are so valuable and true. For myself?
I'm working on #1. With four boys, I feel like I spend a lot of time correcting them. I have to make a conscious effort to be aware of when they have been obedient and to praise them for it. I know it's good for my spirit when someone praises me, and I can see the lift in my own children's spirits when I praise them.
I'd also like to take more opportunities for one on one time with my children. Right now the baby gets a lot of my individual attention, but I know the other boys are hungry for it too. Even if it's just 5 minutes here or there, it makes a world of difference.
We don't have a regular family devotional time and that's something I'd like to incorporate. We will sometimes include Bible stories in story time before bed, but lately bedtime seems to get so crazy that story time doesn't always happen. I'd like to plan a specific time for family devotions.
Finally, #5 really hits home to me. I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve. My husband and I don't really argue or fight in front of our children and I guess I always thought that was the most important thing. But, when I am upset or irritated with my husband, it definitely comes out in my attitude. And, it is SO important for my children to see us, their parents, treat each other with respect. So, that is one that I also need to make a conscious effort to work on.
We had a missionary couple who serve in Jamaica visit our church on Sunday. They pointed out that in Jamaica probably 90% of the children come from broken homes, and perhaps 50% of the children either don't know who their father is or where he is. They said that just by modeling a stable marriage full of love & respect they were accomplishing a huge amount of their missionary work.
The statistics might not be as grim here in the U.S., but they are certainly headed in that direction. I am challenged to help model marriage as God intended it not only to my own children, but to others around us.