Seven lessons from our parenting journey

By Mandi Hart
Published on: April 11, 2022
Lamb

Becoming a mom was a culture shock for me. When I fell pregnant with my eldest, I thought I had this parenting thing wrapped up in my mind. Never mind the fact that I hadn’t changed a nappy, let alone burped a baby or even babysat a toddler.

I still remember over 20 years later how Neil and I drove home with Matthew in his car seat at probably 30km/h wondering, wide-eyed, how the hospital let us out with this newborn. And then, almost two years later, with Emily snuggled into our arms, we introduced her to her big brother. Our family was growing.

Growing into being parents

Fast forward a few years later, we settled into our groove as parents of two children and, frankly; I found it equally challenging, but thrilling as well. It was a powerful moment when I realized that perhaps our greatest contribution to this world is not what we do but who we raise. This thought was a sobering moment. Right there and then, I resolved to love deeper and, together with Neil’s help, raise our children more intentionally.

Seven lessons from our parenting journey 

An intentional focus

We focused on parenting in the manner that our children needed us to. It was specific for the stage of development they were in. It wasn’t just a free for all. We worked on getting the authority vs influence proportion in its place. When our children were babies, our authority was at an all-time high. Simultaneously, our influence was almost zero. But as they grew up, the proportion of authority vs influence slowly changed. Now that they are in their early 20s, we aim to love them and guide them through our influence and the depth of relationships that we have with them.

No perfection, just real life

We removed the pressure to be perfect parents. We had to remind ourselves to parent with grace. There are no perfect children, parents or families. We all make mistakes, but it is our response to when we get it wrong, that makes the difference. Forgiveness, repentance, and honesty go a long way when we model humility.

“The best kind of parent you can be is to lead by example.” — Drew Barrymore, actress

Relationships matter

We thought about what we could do to build healthy connections with our children. Not only that but how could we grow the relationships in our home? We spoke about what our children need from us at that stage of development, how we could best communicate with them and what boundaries we needed to put in place. There were plenty of robust conversations behind closed doors, lots of prayers and seeking advice, but we were focused on the fact the relationship above tasks were the order of the day in our home.

Each child is uniquely themselves

We recognized our children were not mini-us. They were their own person, with their unique gift mix and quirky traits. It was up to us to cultivate an environment where they felt safe, celebrated, and free to express themselves. We aimed to support them as best we could. I think that as parents, we often want our children to enjoy the same activities we do. Whilst that might happen, I think we should give them the freedom to choose. Encourage and support your children because they are likely to live up to what you expect of them (provided these are healthy expectations).

“My doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.” — Wilma Rudolph, Olympian

Keep a sense of humour alive

There is nothing like children in a home to keep things real. Parenting without humour is like an artist who hates to paint. Laugh and lighten up. I have to remind myself that more often than my husband. They are truly a gift from God and make life so much more colourful and messy. Enjoy the mess, be thankful for dirty dishes and smelly socks. These days of raising our young are ones we will remember for years to come.

Get help

You don’t have to raise your children like you are living alone on an island. Get help if you need it. Some stages of development seem to be easier than others, and that’s ok. I struggled with babies but really loved every stage from thereon. I found it easier when my children could communicate in words. Yet, I have friends who adored the baby phase but the teen years leave them petrified. We ask friends who were ahead of us on the parenting journey questions and that helped us tremendously. We attended parenting courses and read books too.

Pray and then pray some more

Start praying for your children, their potential future spouses and the generations to come after them now. It’s not too early to bless the generations that will come after you. Prayer is powerful. Spending time seeking wisdom from the Lord, and interceding for your children’s lives, is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Pray for them, speak Scripture over their lives and trust God because He loves your children even more than you do. 

This is one of my favourite passages that I often prayed: I asked God (and still do), to gently lead us. “He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 41:10.

 I’d love to hear from you, so please let me know in the comments what else would you add? What’s on your parenting life lesson’s list?

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