The other day I ran into a longtime friend and I asked her for some parenting advice. I asked Kathy how to try to encourage my teens to make Jesus a priority. Even though I was sneaking out of the house, having, hosting and attending underage drinking parties and having an occasional smoke during high school, I want more for my kids. I want the learning curve and stage of idiocy I went through as a teen be shorter and less painful for my kids. But I can’t nag, bribe or guilt my kids into reading their Bibles, going to youth group or living out their faith, so I asked Kathy for advice.
Kathy said simply, “Be who you are.” She didn’t judge or patronize me, but gave me practical advice that keeps popping into my head reminding me what I already know:
Kids pay more attention to how we live than how we lecture.
My kids see me reading my Bible regularly, they watch me pray with and for others and they see me mess up a lot and ask them and the Lord for forgiveness. Kathy encouraged me to live my faith out loud, to keep praying for my kids and she also told me she would pray for us.
A few years ago I asked another friend how she dealt with her now grown children being obsessed with the show Friends. She humbly and wisely told me that she would pray for “glimpses.” Nancy would ask God to show her during those teen years that her kids had not abandoned or forgotten about God. She prayed God would show her He was still at work in their hearts and in His grace, God would give her little glimpses to show her just that.
Mary Beth told me whenever I had the opportunity, when the outcome wasn’t life or death to ask my children, “What do you think?” What a great way to help my kids think on their own and become more confident at the same time. Terry lent me a tape from pastor Chip Ingram who said, “Whenever you do things for your kids that they can do for themselves, you are crippling them.” I can’t remember what I ate for lunch five minutes ago, but it kills my kids I have never forgotten that (and quote it often).
The Lord has been incredibly faithful in answering my lifelong prayer for wisdom and discernment (1 Kings 3:9) in raising my children. He has helped me through His Word, Holy Spirit inspired thoughts and the humble, wise moms He has put in my path. He has allowed me to meet godly moms who have committed to the work of prayer and who know that although there are no guarantees our kids will “turn out” no matter what we do, have fought the good fight of mothering.
The best parenting advice is given in love, exactly when we need it and by godly women who have been in the trenches and lived to tell about it.