I think I've done this in the past, but I thought I would write down ten pieces of "advice" for mothers, especially those younger mothers that read this. Mostly because if I don't write these things down, I'll forget them! Age has a way of doing that :) First, a disclaimer. We are not a perfect family and those of you that know us will probably laugh at this list!! These are things we really did try to do but we are not perfect, and some things some of the children didn't learn overly good. All I can say is, we tried! If we did it again, we would try these things again, probably a lot harder!
#1 - Love your children! This might seem really obvious but love is not always easy. Love your children enough to bless them and love them and let them know it even when they are bad. Love your children enough that you do not want to be apart from them. In other words, don't seek to get out of watching them. Love them enough to discipline them. I've seen children at our maze yell at their parents. I've seen children throw things in the store on the ground and their parents smile and put the broken item back on the shelf. I've seen children run away from their parents when they call them. I've seen children kick and hit siblings. A wild and unruly child tells people the parents didn't care enough to control them. Love them enough to teach them things, more on this below. Love your children!!!
#2 - Bless your children. There's a lot of really, really good books out there on this topic. Take time to bless your children and let them know how special they are to you and to God. Take time to give them blessings for their life.
#3 - Teach your children to be leaders. I always told our kids, "We aren't raising you to fit in to the world but to change the world." All christian parents should seek to help their children be leaders. Our country desperately need them as well as their family someday should they marry. All the things in this list will teach them that.
#4 - Teach your children good manners. Children or adults with bad manners will never have true friends or be successful in their family, church, job or country. Teach them good table manners. Teach them how to speak correctly and politely. Teach them how to carry themselves. Stand tall, smile, don't have bad habits that are annoying, etc. So often I see unhappy, poor mannered children and I can't help but feel that if they had a good mother to guide them, the children would be more happy and more liked. Teach them how to answer the phone, teach them how to shake hands, teach them how to introduce themselves, teach them how to dress appropriately with clean clothes, etc. Clothes is another issue! We tried hard to always have "town outfits" when our children were young so they new that when they went out in public, they had to dress nice, fix their hair, etc. Being modest doesn't mean our girls need to look frumpy or unloved. We may look a fright on the farm from working with dirt and manure but it doesn't mean we have to wear those clothes to town! Teach them to respect older people. Teach them how to act in other people's houses. As mother's we often spend more hours a day with the children than the dads. Manners is a good thing to work on, with boys and girls.
#5 - Teach your children that no one else is like them. That sounds strange but what I'm getting at, is that one of the very most important lessons in life everyone needs to learn, is that its not our job to make everyone like us. It's okay to be different. It's okay if we disagree on things that really aren't important. Life is so much easier if we aren't always trying to make a point of how we are right and others are wrong. Teach your children not to correct others. No one likes to be around someone who is always right. Who cares if someone is eating their favorite meal of fried chicken, we don't need to make it a big point by saying, I don't eat fried chicken. It isn't healthy or I don't like it. Sometimes we just need to bite our tongue.
#6 - Encourage your children to do hard things. Do Hard Things is a great book by the way! Start when the children are young. Yes, they can eat that. Yes, they can pick up all those toys. Yes, they can leave the china alone. Yes, they can not watch DVD's or play computer games when you tell them. I find it so sad when a child is faced with a new food they have never tried and the mother says, "They won't like that." How about say, "I'd like him to try it." Encourage them to do what they don't want. Encourage your children to speak in public. They say only 5% of people are willing to speak in public. It starts when children are young. If a child is never made to talk when young, it just gets harder and harder. Encourage your children to be friendly which is often a hard thing for some.
#7 - Teach your children to work. Our house used to be a disaster when the children were young! We would clean it and ten minutes later it looked like a cyclone went through it. Honestly, I was so embarrassed sometimes!! Little children can move a lot of stuff in short time! It really does get easier! But, it only gets easier if you teach your children to clean. Boys and girls need to learn this. I really was convinced of this one day when I saw a girl sweeping her family's kitchen. She missed corners, didn't sweep under chairs or behind the garbage can and she wasn't a young girl either. It was the basis for how we taught cleaning in our house. We would assign each child a daily chore. For example at one time our chores were: Naomi cleaned the kitchen, Amos the entryway, Isaac the living room, Miriam the bathroom, Hosanna the other bathroom, Silas the hall, Priscilla the stairs, or something like that. They did the same chore day after day after day for months starting from a really young age. They got so good that if we gave them a ten minute challenge, which we did often, they had their area all clean. By doing the same thing over and over, they got really good at it. Make a list of what needs to be done, in pictures if need be, and post it in the area they clean. Inspect!! Never let them get by saying they did it when they didn't. We would test them sometimes by hiding a candy bar or new book under the couch or behind the garbage can just to see if they really did clean those areas. Once in awhile we would rotate jobs so they learned each others jobs but for the most part, they did the same thing over and over with the younger ones moving up in jobs or adding jobs as they grew.
#8 - Give your children a love of learning. Now I realize most kids hate school. So what, they need to do it anyway, and true love will make them do it. Regardless of what they get done in school, give them a love of learning. Instill in them a desire to read and research things. Teach them enough that they can continue to learn on their own the rest of their life.
#9 - Encourage your children to be friends with each other. I know parents often feel so bad if their children don't have close friends, and close friends are nice. However, siblings should be your children's best friends. The fact is, the ones we spend the most time with, the ones that won't go away when the school years are over, the ones that will be there no matter what you do or don't do, are family. If you have two children that don't get along, help them to overcome their differences and find things they areas they do get along in to work on. Encourage your children to love each other, help each other, give to each other, and lift up each other.
#10 - Most importantly, teach your children the love of God! From the time they are born, or earlier, read to them God's Word, read Bible story books, sing songs about God, teach them about salvation, teach them godly principles, etc. Spend time memorizing with your children. Take your children places to learn about God. If you want your children to learn in church, teach them to sit still and listen. I'm afraid we often teach our children that church is only for adults by letting them play during church or by not caring if they walk out often or make frequent trips to get drinks or use the bathroom. If we really believe church is important, and want them to attend when they grow up, teach them when they're young to listen and learn. Find creative ways to make listening easier. Question them on the message. Have them take notes. Even a young child can count with paper how many times the pastor says Jesus or something, to encourage listening. Have them listen and draw a picture of what is being talked about. Same with other events where you might go to learn about God. If you want them to learn how to be a godly man or women, teach them to spend time with godly men and women. I love seeing young ladies listening to the older women or young men listening to the older men. Teaching children to love God is best started by our loving God!
Believe me when I say the only reason I can make this list is because these are things we worked on very hard with our children. No, we weren't always successful, and no, they won't go through life doing exactly what we taught them. However, as moms, we need to do the very best we can with these little ones God has entrusted us with. Now we're on the other end of the spectrum and the end of young children in our house is done, other than grandchildren! Those years go so fast. They are so hard at times. But I want to encourage you young mothers that God is faithful and always there. He steps in and helps do what we can't.
May God bless all you mothers out there and give you a wonderful day tomorrow!
(I once heard it said about blogs, "Never has so much been written to so many people that so few read"!)