Friday, December 22, 2006

Preparation for Motherhood, Part 2

I know I’m supposed to write something nice and mushy for Christmas, but my mind is still going about the subject of preparation for parenting. Last time I wrote about what I believe to be the first and foremost “requirement” for successful parenting, and that is, after having a living and vibrant relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, to have a wonderful and loving relationship with your husband. Today, I’d like to deal with what I believe to be one of the most important aspects of child training:

Developing “Backbone”

Mothers are famous the world over for being loving, kind, sweet, and always thinking the best of their children. I’ve noticed over the years, however, that mothers are also known for being “pushovers” – allowing their children to get away with everything short of murder!

Not being willing to say “NO” is the root of an established selfish streak in a child. A mother who is afraid, or even who has reservations about crossing a child’s will, quickly finds herself in situations far beyond her control. A mother needs to have some “backbone,” willingness to say “no,” even when she doesn’t feel like it.

This philosophy doesn’t get along very well with the modern “do-whatever-feels-good” society, and I’m afraid many young women were coddled themselves, and so do not know what it is like to have someone say “no” to them. For young women such as these, there is a very high mountain to climb, but it is not unclimbable. “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me.”

Denying the flesh is the heart of the matter. A woman who is not willing to deny herself and work hard will be unable to require that of her children. A woman who has a “hissy fit” when things don’t go her way will find it nearly impossible to direct her childrens’ wills, and insist on quiet compliance.

We must understand the outcome of what we currently allow. Everything done to a very small child will magnify itself, until the child is grown, at which time the character traits will actually be a large part of what the young person is.

Susanna Wesley, mother of the famous men of God, John and Charles Wesley, said it this way,

“In order to form the minds of children, the first thing to be done is to conquer their will and bring them to an obedient temper. To inform the understanding is a work of time, and must with children proceed by slow degrees, as they are able to bear it; but the subjecting the will is a thing that must be done at once, and the sooner the better, fot be neglecting timely correction they will contract a stubbornness and obstinacy which are hardly ever after conquered, and never without using such severity as would be as painful to me as to the child….I cannot yet dismiss the subject. As self-will is the root of all sin and misery, so whatever cherishes this in children ensures their after wretchedness and irreligion: whatever checks and mortifies it, promotes their future happiness and piety. This is still more evident when we further consider that religion is nothing else than doing the will of God and not our own; that the one grand impediment to our temporal and eternal happiness being this self-will, not indulgence of it can be trivial, no denial, unprofitable.” (emphasis mine)

For some reason, many of us have a tendency to allow boys, especially cute little ones, to “get away with more,” for lack of better words. This does not help them at all! They grow up to be big, self-centered mommy-coddled clods! Don’t let it happen!

Ladies, we need to have some backbone! Be willing to say “No!” First to yourself, and then to your children!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Preparing for Motherhood

Here’s a question that was posed to me recently, and I thought is was a very good one.

What can I do, as a wife, to prepare myself for motherhood?

(Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically or all of the above)

When I first saw this question, I came up with an immediate answer. Then I thought to myself, no, that’s too simple. So I thought about this awhile longer. Then I came right back to the same answer. The more I thought about it, the more I can see the truth of this.

So, my answer to this question is: the best way, as a wife, to prepare for motherhood is: Learn to LOVE your HUSBAND! As I said, it sounds like a very simple answer, but I believe it is one of the keys to being a good mother. The main key, of course, is a good relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, but the next major step would be constantly developing a good relationship with your husband.

Children put an incredible strain on a marriage. And it’s not just when they’re babies, either. Everything from differences in child training practices, the child manipulating one parent against the other, and even just not having much time to communicate are constantly putting stumbling blocks to a good marriage. And with each added child, though each is a wonderful blessing from God, the dizzying round of activity and confusion increases.

If a marriage is cemented in Biblical values and love, it will weather many a storm, and you can be sure the storms will come. But without both of those things, there can be no anchor for the marriage, and every problem becomes a nightmare.

When there is a problem in the marriage, it is a problem with the children. It is the old story of the man having trouble at work, comes home and argues with his wife, who in turn yells at the kids, who in turn kick the dog, who in turn bites the cat! But if the marriage is solid and the wife is right with God, the man may come home and try to argue with his wife, but her soft answers will be an encouragement and blessing to him. Then when she turns from him, she can smile at the children and speak words of blessing and comfort to them. In her tongue will be the law of kindness.

Last week, I was able to spend a most wonderful time with my husband. We talked, joked, laughed, and then went out for lunch where we planned, shared burdens, and bounced theories off of each other. It was a time of seclusion and romance, just the two of us. But when I got home from my escapade into dreamland, I had an unstoppable smile. The kids could spill the milk, fight over a baby doll, and step on my sore toe, and everything was still all right. The moon was beautifully bright, and my husband loved me more than anyone else in the world.

What makes a great mother? Love. What better preparation for motherhood could there be? And there can be no more stabilizing influence in a family than for mom to be terribly in love with dad!