Train up a child: A Devotion for Mothers

Sisters,

We have all heard the popular song by Whitney Houston: “I believe the children are our future…teach them well and let them lead the way…show them all the beauty they possess inside….” Although we may question Whitney’s daughter, Bobby Christina’s more recent decisions, there is no question that her mother loved her and loves her still.

Parents, but especially mothers, play a crucial role in the life and development of their children. Not only do we care for and protect our children for nine months before they enter the world, but we also provide them with the love, support, and nurturing that they so desperately need, especially in those early years of life.

Mothers have a special heart and are the lifeblood of families. Oftentimes, we mothers will sacrifice our own basic needs so that our children do not go without. We stay up late, get up early, act as chauffeurs, chefs, teachers, counselors, drill sergeants, and the list goes on and on.

Because of the special responsibility placed on mothers, God provides a measure of grace to handle the challenges that come with that role. He equips each mother will the tools that she will need to create an atmosphere of love and growth for her children. However, as mothers we must embrace the grace given to us and make good choices for ourselves and for our children.

Making good choices begins before our children are born and carry through into adulthood and beyond. For some of us, we did not make the best choices before our children came into the world, and if we are honest with ourselves, our children may have suffered as a result of our poor decision making. That poor decision making may have been getting involved with the child’s father, having a child when we were not ready for the responsibility of parenthood, or being addicted to drugs, alcohol or tobacco while our children were still in the womb. For others, the bad decisions began after the child was born, and may have involved situations of domestic violence, child abuse, or abandoning our children altogether. The challenges facing mothers, and especially single mothers with no father present in the home on a consistent basis, can be overwhelming and push women over the edge.

The good news is that regardless of how things start out between us and our children, or the bad decisions we may have made, we still have an opportunity to turn things around and to show our children how much we love them. For no matter the age of our children, they still want Mom’s love and support.

The first step to repairing the mother-child relationship is to allow children to be open and honest with you about the hurt that they experienced or are experiencing. Hearing these words from your children may hurt or cause you to be defensive or explanatory, but try to allow them to speak before responding. When you do respond, reply with a spirit of love and concern for their feelings and emotions.

Our children see things through a certain lens, and that lens may look much different than the actual situation or our awareness of how it happened. Be careful not to judge or discount your child’s version of the events. Instead, focus on how it made them FEEL, and seek to console and comfort them in that regard. If the child is mature enough to understand the situation and you feel comfortable doing so, then explain to them what happened in more detail. Sometimes, children just need to be reassured that they were not the cause of our decision(s) and that we love them.

The second step is to ask God to forgive us (and to receive forgiveness, which may be the most challenging part) for our past and present decisions. We also need to ask Him to help us to make better choices moving forward, which could involve quitting smoking, leaving a bad relationship, or learning to speak to our children with respect, even when we are disciplining them.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV) says “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

James 1: 5 (NIV) says “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

Mothers, if you wish to strengthen your relationship with God and with your children, then repeat this prayer with me:

Lord, I desire to be a good mother and a Godly example to my children. I acknowledge that I haven’t always made the best decisions concerning my children, and that even now I sometimes struggle to make good choices on their behalf. Father, help me to make good choices for my children and to acknowledge you in all of my ways so that you can direct my path. Guide me in how to appropriately correct my children when they misbehave and bless me with the fruits of the Holy Spirit to respond to my children in a loving way. God, strengthen me on every side to live a life that is pleasing to you and a blessing to my children. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.

To be sure, all of us get a little tired sometimes, and if we are not careful that irritation can cause us to snap on our children or worse yet, discipline them out of a spirit of frustration and not love. If you feel that you need help, don’t be afraid to ask a neighbor or family member to watch the kids for a couple of hours so that you can get some down time. If necessary, seek professional medical advice or counseling, but DON’T IGNORE IT!

Fellow mothers, don’t rely on your own strength when mothering your children. Psalm 22:6 (NIV) says “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” To train our children and teach them to submit to our authority, we must be willing to submit to God’s authority and His perfect will for our lives, which may differ from what we think is best. In the end, however, all of us, including our children, will be better for it.

Love and peace to you,

Anique

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