A quote that I recently heard in our bible fellowship class really hit home with me. We were doing a mini-series on parenting with guest speaker Tim Matthews (a young couples minister at our church, Prestonwood), and this comment was made:
“We [parents] really only have the first 5 years of our child’s life to be the most influential beings to them.”
After 5 years, they start gaining influence from friends, teachers, pop culture, TV, media… but for those first 5 years, you are IT to them. You’re the bee’s-knees!! So what does this mean, exactly?
It’s a pretty heavy thing to think about, right?!? (As if we needed another thing to panic about as parents! When does it end?! Well, we are raising tiny humans who will eventually be big humans that will impact the world… so, that’s kind of a big deal. And it never really ends.)
So then the question is: what do we do with this burden? There are a few things that I took away from our extremely educational and inspiring parenting message:
We must be involved and engaged.
This does not mean we need to spend every waking minute with our children. It simply means when we do spend time with our children, it needs to be quality time. What if a mom is physically present but not engaged with her children? This would prove that a constant physical presence is not the most important thing. Of course, being present with our children 100% of the time while also being fully engaged and happy is definitely a goal (however unrealistic 😉), we can acknowledge that most of us do have other people watching our kids from time to time. If our children are cared for by someone other than ourselves, we really need to know the lowdown on those people. What are their values and do those values line up with ours? Do we feel comfortable with that person having an influence on our child for these vital, formative years? What behaviors will our child learn from these caretakers? These are important things to consider.
Our children cannot be our idols.
Raise your hand if you can think of someone who revolved their life around their child and then had a meltdown when their kids grew up and left them with an empty nest, an unkept marriage, and a deflated sense of purpose… 🙋🏻 Yeah, I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen that story play out… and it’s not pretty. The truth is, our kids don’t need to be the center of our world because then they start to believe it to be true… and that’s a major bummer to *think* you are the center of the universe and then find out you’re not. Our children need to feel what it’s like to not get their way, to be bored sometimes, and to wait their turn. They need to see what a healthy relationship looks like, understand family values, and learn how to resolve conflict instead of how to run from it. They need to see mommy and daddy spending time together and prioritizing their relationship (date nights or vacations are ideal), and witness each of their parents working on personal growth and happiness. That age-old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do” is really a bunch of garbage. We must authentically model the behaviors that we expect of our children; these foundational principles they learn from us in the formative years of their youth will likely stick with our children and serve them for life.
Remember that we do not own our children.
God gave us these precious babies as a gift with the purpose of using parents as tools to shape His children into the people they were meant to be. This means we shouldn’t have premeditated ideals for the hobbies, interests, and personality traits of our child. How could we? God created each child with a unique purpose and personality that only HE is aware of. We simply need to do our part as the “tool” to shape and mold our children in God’s image. This means we really only have one major goal– make sure our babies know and love our Lord, Jesus Christ!! If we have done nothing else for our children in the first 5 years, that accomplishment alone is sufficient.
There are so many things that could be added to this list, but I tried to keep it concise. I feel like these points are important big-picture concepts… but do y’all have anything to add? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Have a beautiful day, lovelies!!!