One of the hardest things to do around kids is to watch your mouth. I'm not talking about cussin' or anything like that, altho if that's an issue, you probably should address it for sure. I'm talking about walking the walk.
Because isn't it reeeeaaal easy to talk the talk?
Or maybe that's just me.
When we started as young parents, we were blessed to have had some amazing examples in our lives. Our parents on both sides are Christians, but they weren't really intentional about teaching us about Jesus in our homes. I'm not being critical of our parents AT ALL. They loved us, and because of their example and witness, we both came to know Christ at an early age. We are thankful for our parents.
One of the most influential couples in our early married lives were Earl and Carolyn Peeples. Earl was the director of our SS department, and Carolyn was the "seck-ah-tary," as she called herself. Earl also taught Jim's class, and he was no-nonsense all the way. Carolyn was a Mom of four, full of mercy and common sense, and she took several of us under her wing. I learned SO MUCH by watching her example.
The other couple who was hugely influential in our lives was Doug and Karen Alexander (She's Karen Alexander-Doyel now). Doug was one of our ministers at church, and they had 3 boys. Karen did a series of messages on raising kids that I bought and listened to many, many times over the years, because it was full of wisdom and practical, Biblical truth. Karen came to see me in our home after I'd just had Joshua, and as she held him, looked at me and said, "just love him." I will NEVER forget that.
So to bring faith to life for our family, our goal...my goal, as a Mom, was for my kids to know Jesus as more than just a story from a book at church. I wanted them to really KNOW Him...to seek Him in every area of their lives and to acknowledge Him as the Source of every blessing. I wanted Him to be so real for them, that it would be natural for them to turn to Him always...that it would be like breathing to praise Him. I wanted to follow the Great Shemah from the Book of Deuteronomy...
"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuternomy 6:4-9
So we talked about Jesus from the time we got up until we went to bed. We sang praise tapes in the car and watched movies like the Donut Repair Club and Veggie Tales. We talked about God's creation and gave thanks for the sun and the rain and bugs and the beach. We prayed at our meals and at bedtime, but also at random times during the day...for daddy, if he was on a trip, for a sick friend or family member, for forgiveness when one had done the wrong thing; and we gave thanks for even little things like getting a close parking spot at WM when it was raining.We memorized Scripture and had verses displayed in our home...on
Just be prepared. The more you teach them, the harder their questions are, and the more you realize how very little you know. About anything. And the more you teach them, the more they're gonna hold you accountable for your own actions. Like, in our family, the "D" word is "dumb." The "S" words (we have two) are "shut-up" and "stupid." So I could've just dropped a pan of muffins on the floor and my kids would be all, "ummmmm...you said 'DUMB!'" And they would announce to all of our friends...and their GRANDPARENTS..."Mommy said the D-word today..."
And when you teach your children how much Jesus loves them and how we should tell everyone about Him, be prepared. I can't tell you the times we would be at Wal-Mart or a restaurant, and Logan, would whisper under his breath to me, "Mommmmm...aren't you gonna TELL him?" Me: "who?" Logan: "that man...aren't you going to tell him?" Me: "tell him what, Logan?" Logan: "about Jesus...Tell him, Mom."
Also in our family, we did not allow the kids to attack each other's intelligence or physical traits/abilities. Not gonna have name-calling like that in my home...for obvious reasons. I felt that way from my early days as a parent, when I heard a message from James Dobson along those lines...but that rule was set-in-stone the day Joshua came home from his elementary school and told me he had a "messed up brain." I asked him why he would say that, and he said some kids on the playground told him that he had a "messed up brain." So, I loved on him and told him he was perfect just the way God made him, and to never, EVER listen to mean things like that. And then I went into my bedroom and cried my eyes out. I vowed that, at least at home, I would do my very best to make it that safe place...for all of my kids. And to teach my boys, and my girl, to come to the aid and defense of people who maybe could not speak up for themselves.
These kinds of things are so easy when the kids are little.They are so innocent and they just soak up everything like a sponge. It is such a great time to be hiding God's Word in their hearts, because those fiery darts come all too soon, and the distractions and busyness of the world can take their minds off the things of Christ. Not gonna lie...it definitely gets harder as they get older, but if you start building that foundation at an early age, it will help them withstand many of the trials that come along.
I would say that finding some couples who are a little further along on the parenting journey can be very helpful. You can learn from their examples, and go to them with questions. Form friendships with other Christian couples and families. Their support can be invaluable to you during hard times...and can enhance your joy in the happy times. Be consistent...your walk needs to match your talk. Be careful to attend to your own spiritual life. Stay in the Word of God. I remember a pastor telling us one time, "you cannot impart what you do not possess." Kids are very perceptive, and they aren't going to buy into anything you're telling them if they don't think you're real. Pray often and always. And share your needs with others. There are just going to be some things along the way in life where there's no quick fix. Life happens. Tragedy, difficulties, sadness...sometimes things just don't make sense...
Run to Jesus.
And, allow yourself a little grace. Parenting is hard. We can all admit to messing up on a daily basis. We show grace to our children each day...why is it so hard to accept that same grace from God?
"...His mercies are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22b-23)