by Inez Haythorn
Parenting can be a hard job. With so many different theories in every book or magazine you read, your mind is left spinning. Am I too strict or too lenient? Do I pressure my kids too much, or am I not pushing them enough? Are they in too many activities, or too few? Do they have too much structure in their lives, or too much free time? The questions can go on and on, and may leave you feeling paralyzed in your parenting skills.
My children are still teenagers, so I wouldn't dare try to advise someone else in how to raise their children. I'm still working on my own! However, I started thinking back on how I was raised. What did my mother do right? I came up with some basic concepts that may be helpful to all of us.
First of all, she brought us up in the
Lord. Starting as little girls, she would have a short Bible story, song, and prayer before my sister and I went to sleep. She saw to it that we attended church regularly, and it was considered a priority. We were taught the discipline of going to church even if we didn't feel like getting out of bed. She taught us right from wrong, and we knew misbehavior would not be tolerated.
we knew Mother had unconditional love for us. I can remember as a little girl in school picturing her loving smile when she saw me. We knew we were treasured by her. My mother had kind words for us, and was always there for us. She was faithful and dependable.
Another important quality, especially as we started into the preteen and teen years was
communication. My mother was shock-proof. My sister and I knew that we could talk to her about any subject at any time. She always listened non-judgementally and gave solid, wise answers. If we brought up a questionable subject, she didn't panic or yell, even though she might have felt that way inside. She would listen and calmly discuss the matter with us.
My mom always explained "why". She never said, "Don't do this or that because I said so." She would give us logical, intelligent reasons why we shouldn't do something. Then, if other kids would make fun of me or question why I didn't engage in a certain activity, I had a solid basis for an answer. It kept me from being "caught up in the moment" many times. I still laugh every time I think of one of my old college friends and a story that she told us many years ago. Before a date, her mother would warn her not to get too intimate "because it could lead to worse things". But she never knew what the worse things were! Of course that was many years ago, when teenagers were not as worldly-wise as they are now.
Today, children are in so many activities. Each parent must decide what is best for their own kids, and when they are in too much.
My mom believed that our talents should be developed. But we were only in one or two things. Our family has always been musical, and my mother realized that my sister and I both had musical talent. So she sacrificed to see to it that we had the best piano teachers available. We had to practice, whether we wanted to or not. We were not allowed to quit. She knew that we would regret giving it all up for a childish whim. Even though I became an elementary teacher and not a music major, the piano has greatly enriched my life. It has not only brought pleasure to me, but I have been able to serve other people through being an accompanist at church, choir, and grade school choruses.
Responsibility was something else deemed important in our home. Mother was not rigid in her expectations, but what we were supposed to do, we had to do. For example, as mentioned before, we were responsible for going to church and performing any duties we had there. School attendance, good grades, and good behavior were also important. We were also responsible for nightly chores, like washing and drying dishes. Every Saturday we had to help clean the house before we could get together with friends or plan dates.
Finally, my mother was a godly example.
She practiced what she taught. She was completely trustworthy and truthful. I still seek her wisdom almost daily in raising my own sons. Her advice has been priceless. As I try to apply these same principles in my own parenting, I pray that my boys will become not only successful in life, but godly men of integrity.