“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
My journey to motherhood includes one stillborn baby girl, five failed open adoptions, twelve years of barrenness, and finally, the pronouncement that I would never have children.
I remember taking that news back to my husband, crying, praying, and surrendering. I didn’t surrender easily but wrestled it out before the Father for a long while. I remember stamping my foot in frustration, and I also remember brokenness and submission to His will and not my own.
A ministry door opened for us in another state. We moved, and I shared my story of barrenness. The women of that church joined me and my husband and began to pray in unity and with power that God would open my womb. On our first ladies’ retreat I stood before them and announced that God had heard the cry of our hearts. On September 15, 1995 Rebekah Elizabeth was born. She weighed a hearty 5 pounds and instantly stole our hearts. I was 34 years old when Rebekah was born. Then, quite to my surprise at the age of 36, God fulfilled His promise to our family as Rachel Abigail came fighting her way into this world at a whopping 3 pounds 12 ounces.
My body did not cooperate with the early morning feedings or the all night vigils that accompanied babies, but I was determined to be a great mom. I was determined “to train them in the way that they should go,” but to be honest, I really didn’t know what that looked like. I remember listening to a group of young moms share how their children were doing this and that, and as I got into my car I had an overwhelming sense that maybe I was a little behind on the training aspect of parenting. The other moms seemed to have it all together. Each of their children seemed to be more advanced than my girls, and I felt really behind (Rebekah was 2 years old, and Rachel was an infant). Why didn’t I have a plan? Feelings of inadequacy and failure began to overshadow my parenting. I needed to step it up if I was going to “train” my girls adequately.
Shortly after that encounter, the girls had a well visit with their pediatrician. I remember Dr. Laurie calming my fears and asking me some pointed questions about my girls. She said, “Diane, if Rebekah turns 5 years old and you are still allowing her to keep her pacifier and sleep in the baby bed, we will revisit some of your concerns.” She went on to explain and reminded me to look at my girls and the heavenly Father for His plans concerning them. I am so grateful I had a Christian pediatrician.
The girls were content, happy, well adjusted, and a joy to us and to everyone they encountered. I took the advice of my pediatrician and sought out a trusted friend who was further down the road in raising her girls than I. I knew training was important, but I discovered that most of my training took place simply by living each day fully committed to the Father who had given these precious girls to me in the first place.
As I spent time with God, I took the following steps to avoid the “comparison game” and looked to Him for answers in “training” my daughters.
- I spent time daily with the Father, learning His Word and hiding it in my heart.
- I let Him deal with my inadequacies and my fears.
- I specifically asked for a verse to pray over my girls.
- I tried to model what the Father was teaching me.
- I prayed over my children every day where they could hear me.
- Discipline involved forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, AND restoration
- I made decisions with my husband concerning schooling. We looked at each girl individually and prayed for direction for what was best for each one.
- We admitted when we made mistakes and asked forgiveness.
- We allowed each girl to be who God created her to be and tried not to compare the girls to each other.
- We chose a family motto and lived by it.
I am not finished with this parenting journey. My youngest is home and is spreading her wings. She is a junior and just got her driver’s license. She and I are most alike in our temperaments. (I’ll let you fill in the blanks of that last sentence!) My oldest birth girl is a sophomore in college and is coming into her own journey as an incredible young woman of God.
I still pray where they can hear me praying for them. I still pray the verses God gave me for each one, and I have added other prayer requests. I am reminded that though the bulk of my training is done, my influence as their mother, mentor, and friend will be felt throughout their lives. Although my decisions of where or how they are educated are important, the most important training is done while they watch me live my own faith journey.
As our children mature into adults, our training will come to a conclusion. But our influence will last for eternity and will be passed down to their own children. So today, stop comparing yourself and your parenting skills to others. Seek God’s direction and approval first. When needed, get advice from a trusted, godly friend who has “been there and done that.” Finally, know that when you have given your best in this parenting journey, there will come a time when your children will recognize all that you did and, prayerfully believing the promise of the Word, they will choose not to depart from it.
*Do you struggle with the “comparison game”? How have you been challenged to train your own children in the Lord? Please share your thoughts and comments below!