Sarah giggled as she walked in our dorm room. “Elizabeth, we got another letter from my mom!” she said.
Each week my best friend, Sarah, and I looked forward to receiving her mom’s letter, which usually recounted the hometown news and always included a Bible verse.
A letter might not seem like a big deal. But for me — a young girl who grew up in a family with divorce, addiction, abuse and abandonment — those letters made me believe I was important to someone. As a child, I spent a lot of time alone: getting myself ready for school, cooking myself dinner and putting myself to bed. Now that I am a mom, I realize I need to slow down and listen to my children’s hour-long diatribe about the school cafeteria running out of Tater Tots.
Maybe you want to create a healthy, Christ-centered family. But you’re just not sure how to cultivate one because you lacked the childhood role models to show you how.
Fortunately, 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that in Christ we are a new creation. That means we can create a new family legacy. Read on for four strategies that helped me become a healthier parent.
Stay in the Word
Early on in my parenting journey, I read so many Christian parenting books that I could have wallpapered my entire house with the pages. But more importantly, I sought wisdom directly from the Bible. By focusing on Scripture and prayer, I felt more equipped to deal with daily crises. I gained courage from the verse, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5, NIV).
Meet with a mentor
You need someone to offer guidance, advice and a listening ear. You need someone to call when the baby won’t stop crying, the preschoolers are biting each other and you’re dizzy from riding the preteen emotional roller coaster. A mentor teaches you the skills your family of origin lacked.
For instance, if your parents had no boundaries, almost to the point of neglect, then a mentor can help you learn how to discipline.
Apologizing to your kids when you lose your temper or make a mistake shows your kids what grace and forgiveness look like. I saw healthy Christian families model this, and I pondered Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (NIV).
My husband and I were then able to implement a forgiveness model in our home to shape the way we teach our children about conflict resolution.
Give yourself grace
Know that it is OK to take time for yourself, to seek counseling or even medication if your doctor prescribes it. It’s OK to be honest with your spouse if you’re having a tough day.
Most of all, it’s OK not to be the perfect parent with the Pinterest-perfect parties, the smocked outfits, the homemade baby food. I once thought that if I could do everything “right,” then I would be the healthy parent I longed to be. But then I realized kids don’t need perfection. They need a mom who simply seeks Jesus each day. You can be that mom.
Are you looking for additional material to read about motherhood? Look no further. Try these resources: