Be the Mom You Want to Be

By Elizabeth Oates
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Mom Holding Daughter: a loving mom holds her young daughter against a white wall
Stocksy-Jennifer Brister
How to parent well even if you didn't have a good role model

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.

Water color of a sunflower, lavender, and leaves

FOTF-Anneka Jack

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).

Water color of a sunflower, lavender, and leaves

FOTF-Anneka Jack

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.

Water color of a sunflower, lavender, and leaves

FOTF-Anneka Jack

Apologize

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.

Water color of a sunflower, lavender, and leaves

FOTF-Anneka Jack

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.

Need encouragement for your parenting journey? Discover biblically based wisdom and inspiration from parenting expert Dannah Gresh.

Listen to part 1 of 2.

Are you looking for additional material to read about motherhood? Look no further. Try these resources: 

 

In Hope for When You Feel Discouraged as a Mom, Kathy Lipp offers encouragement. Good moms aren’t perfect. They fail. And that’s OK.

In What You Do as a Mom Matters, Linda Weber reminds how important moms are. And sometimes we have to remind ourselves.

Buy the book The Eternal Mark of Mom by Linda Weber. Then learn how to nurture the hearts and souls of your children.

© 2019 by Elizabeth Oates. All rights reserved. Used by permission. This article first appeared in the October/November 2019 issue of Focus on the Family magazine.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Oates

Elizabeth Oates is a speaker and writer. She is the author of Mending Broken Branches: When God reclaims your dysfunctional family tree.

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