~Surrounded by my Boy Warriors. ~
My eldest son, Leader Boy Warrior, turned 7 yesterday and I have been reflecting on how my parenting style has changed over these short years. I read parenting books while I was pregnant and was greatly influenced by the Ezzos. Yes, I was a 'babywise' parent and my baby was a text book case, complying very nicely with the routine that I subjected him to.
When Courageous Boy Warrior arrived however, the 'Babywise' techniques didn't work. He had silent reflux and I suffered fron post-natal depression. Suffice to say, there was a lot of crying from both mother and child. And I don't remember the Ezzos having any answers to do with with situation. I read every parentnig book I could get my hands on and as a result I felt like a failure time and time again. Every parenting technique I implemented left me feeling worse about myself than before I tried it. On top of that -they didn't work! Or they worked for one child and not the other.
By the time Cookie Boy Warrior joined our family, I had purchased a baby sling (the Ezzos would not have been happy) and did everything I was advised not to. I enjoyed wearing my baby in the sling. I found him to be more settled and the easiest baby to care for. He was so content.
I found myself in the ealier years of my parenting second-guessing myself. I was under the impression that the parenting experts were more qualified than I was and because of this, I should listen to them. I have learned since though that God gives mothers a special gift of maternal instinct that allows us to be 'in tune' with our children. We need to listen to that still small voice inside that tells us what we should do with our children and stop doubting ourselves. It truly is a gift.
I read some great thoughts today about parenting. I love how the post ends with this paragraph:
When I see the way that God parents me I am more able to parent my children in love, in grace…with discipline as it should be – loving discipline. Discipline that restores, not tears down or breaks hearts. Every action the Father does toward me is one of restoration, although I don’t always see that at the time. But it is. That is His nature and I trust Him. (http://kerugma.net/)The more I understand how the Father parents me, the more I understand just how I should be parenting my own children. My aim is to parent my boys with the same love, grace and chastisement that the Father has with me. Now, because I am not perfect like my Father, I will not always hit the mark. But that is my goal. But I have at my disposal the best parenting book - His Word. And I have the best Teacher right beside me, every step of the way - the Holy Spirit.
If I could sum up in one word how He parents me, it would be 'relationship'. It is through my relationship with Him who loves me unconditionally that I have learned to be me again. It is through my relationship with Him that I have overcome depression. It is through my relationship with Him that I have been set free from rejection. It is because of my relationship with him that I no longer want to sin. It is beacuse of my relationship with Him that I want to obey and do what He asks me to do for Him.
My biggest goal for my boys is to teach them about Him and have them choose from their own free will to follow Jesus. I also want to nuture a close relationship with each of my boys. On the eve of Leader Boy Warrior turning 7 as I tucked him into bed, our converstaion went like this:
JPW: Do you know that Jesus loves you?
JPW: But do you know deep down in your heart that he loves you?
LBW: No. (looking at me with a frown)
JPW: Do you know that if there was no one left on earth except for you, and sin seperated you from God the Father, then He still would have sent Jesus to die for you - just so He could be with you?
LBW: Really? (He beamed with a smile at the thought of it from ear to ear.)
JPW: Yes! Really. Do you know that when you came out of Mummy's tummy and I got to hold you for the first time, my heart was so full of love that I thought it would burst!
Leader Boy Warrior burst into tears and we embraced. It was a moment that I will never forget. One of those moments that you wish you could freeze and return to again and again.
Homeschooling my boys does not guarantee that my boys will choose Jesus and follow Him the rest of their lives. Having a devotion every day with them will not guarantee that they will choose Him. Teaching them all about the bible will not guarantee that they will choose Him. Having them learn memory verses will not guarantee that they will choose Him. Sending them to church every Sunday does not guarantee that they will choose to follow Jesus.In fact, there are no guarantees. I can encourage my boys to have a realtionship with Him, but I cannot force it upon them. Ultimately, the choice must be their own.
I need to model my relationship with Jesus to the boys. They need to see who I turn to when I hit a rough patch. Do I turn to my friends? Facebook? Blog posts? Or do I turn to Him? When I am sick, do I turn to Him? How do I cultivate my relationship with Him? Do the boys see that I find wisdom in His Word? Do they see that I worship Him even during those bad times? Do they see me praying in all seasons - not just the bad times? To encourage the boys to have a realtionship with Jesus, they need to see why we need to have a realtionship with Him.
Still taking lessons from the King,