I was recently asked if I would write an article in a newsletter for a young moms group. As I started thinking back to the time when my girls were little, I was flooded with warm memories and deep regrets.
I have been very blessed, not only to have enjoyed that magical time when my kids were little, but also to have survived it.
If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self, what would I say?
Being a young mom is a thrill ride. There are new challenges and milestones every day. You learn as you go. And nothing can prepare you.
I remember when we were leaving the hospital with my oldest daughter, Emily. I was thinking, ‘How could they let ME walk out of here with a baby?! Were they crazy?
Day by day we learned, and the kids grew. My husband and I fumbled around going this way and that, doing the best that we could as young parents. We were tossed to and fro by well intentioned advice and made many mistakes.
Now our girls are in high school. Where did the time go?
Just when you think the teenage years are so far away, there they are, staring you right in the face!
Looking back, there are 3 pieces of advice that I would give to young moms (and dads!).
1. Show your kids that God comes first
My greatest regret in parenting is not being a Christ-centered family when my kids were little.
We were typical American parents. God wasn’t our number one for most of our marriage. If you would have asked us, we would have said that He was. But He wasn’t. We were very much living for the American Dream.
We were raising our girls to be good people because we were good people. Wasn’t that what we were supposed to be doing?! Wasn’t that enough?
We taught them to say please and thank you. We taught them to be nice and polite and do what they’re told. We took them to church on Sundays to learn about God. And we taught them the importance of a good education.
Purposefully or not, by mirroring things we observed from our parents, the media, the culture, the church and our community, we put our family first.
It saddens me to think about it. We were wrong.
*God Must Always Come First*
Not only should God come first, there shouldn’t be a close second. Nothing should come close to God in our lives.
It’s no wonder that most kids grow up to be young adults that care very little about God or their faith. Why would they put God first when their parents didn’t?
Our kids will do as we do.
We must put God over our families, the way He intended. Only then can our families and our kids be healthy and strong. If we put God first, then the family will be as it should be, UNDER His Lordship.
Read my blog post, 5 ways to put God above the American Dream
2. Give yourself grace
Someone once said to me, ‘If you were a perfect parent, your kids wouldn’t need a Savior!’ Amen to that!
As a young mom, sixteen years ago, I put a lot of pressure on myself; pressure to be the perfect mom and to have the perfect kids.
I felt pressure to . . . . .
- raise geniuses
- potty train by the time they are 2
- have my kids reading before they can walk
- have the perfect amount of activities; playdates, music classes, soccer, etc.
I remember people having opinions about everything; breastfeeding or formula, thumb sucking or the pacifier, potty training, putting the kids to bed, daycare, homeschool, etc. The list goes on and on.
Everybody seems to have opinions when you have kids. And, for some reason, they feel they have to right to share them with you.
Don’t let your kids use a pacifier or suck their thumb, they will need braces if you do.
Don’t give them a bottle too soon.
Don’t pick up your baby every time they cry.
Don’t let your kid have a tantrum or make noise at the grocery store.
You should start piano lessons early, it helps their brain develop.
You must give your kids the flu shot.
They shouldn’t ever watch television when they are little.
Pressure, pressure, pressure! There is so much pressure!
The advice that I give young moms is . . . . lower the bar.
The house doesn’t need to be clean all the time. Let it go. So what if the house is messy? Do you want your kids to remember that their mom spent time with them, or that the house was clean?
Kids don’t always need to be dressed, or wear matching clothes, or even wear clean clothes. Sometimes, they don’t need clothes at all! They don’t need to have perfect manners, a clean face and groomed hair.
Lower the bar.
If little bobby has a temper tantrum in the grocery store one day, and you give in. So what?! It’s one time. It’s not the end of the world! If you need to buy those groceries and book it out of there, than buy that Hershey bar this time!
Give yourself grace.
Other people will judge you. Count on it! But, so what?! Don’t worry about what other people will say or think. At the end of the day, one of the best things you can do for your kids is to take care of their mom!
3. Don’t put too much weight on ‘milestones’
Don’t worry about milestones. Your kid will eventually walk, she will eventually stop sucking her thumb and wearing pullups at night, she will learn to ride a bicycle, learn their A,B,C’s, and so on.
Some kids walk when they are 9 months old and some when they are 16 months. Some kids crawl first, some scoot, and some skip all that and go straight to walking! Some kids talk in full sentences from the womb, and some don’t say a word until much later. And some don’t stop wearing pullups at night until they are 10!
So what?! Let your kid be who he is. Let him have his own milestones, not be forced to have someone else’s.
The shoulds of life can imprison us. Let them go. Take the word should out of your vocabulary, especially when it comes to raising your kids.
The greatest success in parenting is raising kids who know and love God.
Our job is to raise kids to become adults who chase after holiness, not happiness, and seek God’s will more than the American Dream. Our job is to create adults who put God first.
If our kids grow up knowing and seeking God in their lives, not much else matters. In other words . . . . don’t sweat the small stuff! Cut yourself some slack, and enjoy the ride! It will be over before you know it!
What are your struggles as a young parent?
If you are a seasoned parent, what would you have done differently when your kids were young?