But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
What is your idea of good parenting?
What does the world generally say about parenting? As a young mother I frequently see the standard for parenting set as the following: you put your children first. They come before everything and everyone, even your spouse. Even before yourself. You make your children homemade organic food all the time in your Baby Bullet. You love to cook well-rounded meals, every meal. You enroll your kids in the best schools ever and put your children in as many extracurricular activities as early as possible, and only the ones that will enhance their cognitive control, aid in information retention, and assist in behavior regulation. Or, maybe you dress your children in the best labels. You give your last for your children. Your children want for nothing. That’s what being a good parent is all about, right? At least that’s what I thought it was, and what I aspired to be: the perfect mom who can do it all with my daughter right by my side.
I remember when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I was so scared, scared I would mess up. I downloaded every parenting app. I read so many books. I enrolled in every (free) birthing and parenting class I could. I pinned so many parenting articles on Pinterest. After I gave birth, I had a group of mom friends. Some days I would feel so inadequate because I couldn’t do what they could. I would feel frowned upon when I did less-than-perfect things, like “Oh gosh, I gave Raegan juice. I did not dilute it with water like the other moms.” Or, “I am so tired, too tired from school to make a meal. So I gave her chicken nuggets. I must be failing in the mom department.” I read parenting magazines and would freak out when one expert said something that contradicted another expert. I just wanted to be the best mom I could be. I wanted to be a good parent. This is good parenting, right? ……No it’s not. At least, not entirely.
We are not bound by the world’s confusing, incoherent, and incomplete standard of parenting. The Bible is our golden standard.
As I mentioned in my previous post, we have the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us in all things, including raising our children. As Christians, we must view children the way that God does. This is no different than any other area of our life: we look at it through our “God lens,” meaning His Word. By taking a step back from the apps, magazines, mom groups, or even our own upbringing, we can adjust our perspective.
1. Recognize Children for What They are: Gifts
The Bible tells us that “children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Psalm 127:3-5. Other translations of the Bible state that children are a gift from the Lord. This is a running theme in the Bible. For example, Abraham and Sarah were in their old age and had no children. But, in Genesis 17:15-16 God said He would make Sarah a mother after all those years. God said He would bless her by making her a mother. Don’t miss that: we are blessed to be mothers, children are a blessing and gift from God.
James 1:17 describes every good and perfect gift as coming from above, as coming from our unchanging and reliable God. Thus, I can trust in God’s selection of me as Raegan’s mother. God is constant and makes no mistakes, so when He gave me my gift called Raegan Elyse, I could trust that He selected me for a good reason. This means I will
not mess up my mothering.
Now we must address the opposing view: “children get on my nerves. They should be seen but not heard.” That’s a lie. I fully agree with my Life Application NIV Study Bible when it analyzes Psalm 127:3-5 by stating that children are not liabilities- they are assets. They are not a nuisance, a disruption, or a distraction (although children can get on your nerves, for sure). They are not an
inconvenience but a gift, our heritage from the Lord. How dare we treat them in any other way than the gift they are?
2. How do we respond to God trusting us as mothers of our children?
Do we try to be super mom? Perfect mom? Glam mom? The mom who has it all together. No, sis. Get out of your own strength and get on your knees before God. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your guide. Our standard is
NOT this world; it is the Word.
This is our standard: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6. This is done by the Holy Spirit.
I call this Holy Spirit parenting. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit deposited inside of us and He will lead us. See John 14:26-27. We also have the Word. Holy Spirit parenting means you have the responsibility to lead your children in the admonition of the Lord.
3. How does Holy Spirit parenting play out on the ground?
Below are some of the things the Holy Spirit has led me to do with my daughter:
-Show mercy or show justice as the Spirit leads. I recognize that my child will act up here and there. Proverbs 22:15 is forever right when it says that folly is bound up in the heart of a child. Folly is surely within my daughter, and I must discipline her. There’s no getting around that. In the moments when Raegan acts up, sometimes the Holy Spirit leads me to show her love and mercy. This may be because there is a deeper reason for her behavior- is she not used to the environment? Is she exhausted? Is she hyper from something I gave her? Other times I am led to show my daughter justice (meaning discipline). This may not happen when other people would like me to do this. You know what I mean if your child has ever had a moment in the grocery store. If you go off, some people will think you’re crazy and a bad parent. If you try to speak sweetly, some people think you let your kids run crazy and you’re a bad parent. The good thing is that other people’s opinions don’t dictate what I do with my daughter- the Holy Spirit dictates me. This means not even me, or my own emotions at the moment, should lead me. I try not to react in anger or frustration. Being led by the Spirit means your parenting decisions won’t always make sense to your friends, your mama, your daddy, or the people at the grocery store.
-Guard my child’s heart and our home by watching the influences around her.
This comes from Proverbs 4:23. This responsibility falls on our shoulders as single mothers. Children are susceptible to a lot of influences, and I want to make sure God is the winning influence in our home. This means I do NOT play about the following: TV shows, movies, books, babysitters, and how we spend our time together. How we spend our times shows what we prioritize. Thus, it’s a priority to teach her about His Word, who God is, the importance of prayer, and family Bible study time.
We can try to fuss about how it’s not that serious or not that deep, but it is folks. Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? Do you want a song that does nothing to glorify God, full of cussing, fussing, degrading women, basically filth…stuck in your child’s head?! How are you teaching your kids to follow Philippians 4:8 (thinking about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy) when the songs talk about pills, lean, molly, twerkin’, sexual positions, adultery, being Yeezus, and folks calling themselves God, you name it?! I used to be in the world, heavy. I know what they are singing about, and I used to jam to it in the car. Now, I wonder why I was ever listening to some of the stuff I was listening to when it was blatant filth? I will guard my daughter’s heart, and I will not allow our home to do anything but glorify God.
-Guard YOUR heart.
Sis, you have got to be careful about who you let speak into your life and tell you how to parent. Again, this goes back to Proverbs 4:23. You can’t let just anyone give you advice and speak into your life. This means you cannot have toxic groups of people in your life giving advice and putting down your parenting choices. You cannot compare your motherhood journey to others or allow others to compare theirs to yours. This is called competition, and it kills a good community (more on this later in another post). This means you cannot consult the parenting apps, parenting magazines, the books, etc. before you run to the Holy Spirit first. This means you cannot take parenting advice from well-meaning friends who are not parents. It’s just like taking advice from a single girl about marriage.
Nor can you allow people to dictate what you will do with your child when you have no peace about that. This is a simple example, but if one more person tells me to teach my daughter to whip or Nae-Nae or any other dance, I will scream! That is not my priority. My priority is for her to learn how to pray. I even have to hold off of family member’s advice sometimes. For me, guarding my heart means keeping good influences around me. I want a good community for me, that pours into me and encourages me as a mother. This does not mean you avoid criticism, but we cannot get caught up in competing for mom of the year.
-Spend time with my daughter.
As mentioned above, it’s a priority to teach her about His Word, who God is, the importance of prayer, and family Bible study time. It’s also a priority to spend good quality family time together, even if we don’t have a lot of money. You don’t have to have money to have fun. The Holy Spirit will tug on my heart to go and spend uninterrupted time with my daughter. This is very hard to do sometimes because I am in law school and very involved at my school. Now that I am in a relationship, it can be tough balancing school, my boyfriend, and my daughter. But, it’s a priority and something God does not play with me about. Spending time together can be done in a lot of creative ways. I will make a more detailed post about having fun when you have literally no money to spare. 🙂
I encourage you to lay down your desire to be that perfect mom at God’s feet. Ask Him to free you from the thoughts that you want to have it all together, that you are on point and you don’t miss a beat. You are not super mom that can do everything, no one is. But, you are a Spirit-filled Mama. Be free from the crushing and confusing standards, and walk in the freedom the Spirit provides. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17.
He has graced you for this.