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For Mothers

For Mothers: Listening

It’s a skill that is difficult to teach but an important life and relationship skill: Listening.

What is listening?

To hear the words of another person without passing judgement or waiting for your turn to speak demonstrates listening.

To engage with the words and emotions behind the words of another person demonstrates listening.

To hear, consider and respond to the words of another person demonstrates listening.

Hearing and digesting, showing interest and responding: these are the responses that demonstrate listening.

Boring, Funny, Important sharing

Sometimes our children, especially when they are quite small, are repetitive. Sometimes they say something which is so innocent or ignorant — or wise — we laugh. Sometimes, there is drama and anxiety wrapped up in our children’s words, which causes us to cringe. What do we do with our feelings?

Listening is so important for us to do with our children, because they need to share.

Listening is so vital to our children’s growth, because it builds their confidence.

Listening to our children is crucial to our building and holding a good relationship with them, not only now but in the long run.

Listening is hard work

I find I have to remind myself not to interrupt when my offspring decides to share. Sometimes I need to hold my tongue to show respect and interest, because talking is a whole lot easier for me than listening.

But whenever I listen, I learn and am blessed to discover more about my own child. And that is hugely rewarding.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Honesty is the best Policy

If you want your child to be honest with you, don’t lie to him/her… not even a tiny lie. Honesty is the best policy.

If you want your child to trust you, tell the truth (not necessarily frank, blunt, rude or totally transparent or age-inappropriate, but be honest).

If you want a relationship built upon trust, be honest with your children. In everything, be honest. That’s what I believe.

I’ve never lied to my child

I made a decision when my boy was very young, never to lie to him.

Of course there are things I don’t share. Age appropriateness is important to a child’s well being.

But I remember when my son was heading toward his first Christmas and I thought, ‘I’m not going to encourage Santa Claus stories. I won’t fabricate or lie. I won’t tell him there’s no Father Christmas, but I won’t encourage the story either.’ 

Why not encourage Santa? 

There is a principle in child rearing, “Start the way you want to finish.”

I decided never to lie to my son because one day, when I said to him, “Don’t lie me,” I didn’t want him to come back at me and say I’d lied to him.

I figured if I never lied to him, I would have moral authority over the argument about truthfulness. If I told him the truth, I would be fostering honesty, whereas if I lied even on something like Santa Clause, I wouldn’t be able to say, “I’ve never lied to you” and he could accuse me of hypocrisy.

One day it happened!

And sure enough, that day of accusation came. 

One day, I said I expected him to tell me the truth. He said I’d not always told him the truth. I said I had.

He said, ”What about Santa Claus?”

We talked it through and he realised that, yes indeed, I’d never lied to him about Santa. I had never announced or endorsed Santa. I’d never even given him a present from Santa, but the unlabelled presents he’d assumed were from Santa.

I’m so grateful

My son and I get along very well. I’m so grateful.

I’m sure my son has secrets — He needs to grow independently as he grows in his adulthood. And I give him room, give him his privacy. 

But I’m also convinced, he doesn’t lie to me. I’m so grateful.

I really believe honesty is always the best policy. We need wisdom to ensure what is shared is always healthy, age relevant information. But in our mothering, I encourage us all to be honest with our children.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Love covers a multitude of sins

(1 Peter 4:8)

Our children are so forgiving of us

As parents we do our best for our children. But sometimes we fail. That’s reality.

But our children need us, love us and so they forgive us, accept us. Love covers a multitude of sins (ours!)

We love our children

Though imperfect, we love our children unconditionally. ‘Love covers a multitude of sins.’ Even though children are only learning right from wrong, the older they become, the more they have learned about right and wrong. They tend to want to please us; they also tend to want their own way. So, they make mistakes as we all do. But our love for them continues; love covers a multitude of sins (theirs!). 

My recent realisation

I’m writing this post because recently, I realised I’ve been too critical of my now 19 year old son, who is kind, honest, hard working and independent.

When he was little, I was so eager to train him in responsibility that I was too quick to look at his shortcomings when he was in disagreement with another child. I was so eager to raise him with good values that I was often too quick to judge, suspicious of his intentions…. even got out of the starting blocks! (even before he did anything naughty)

Self reflection

How could I be suspicious of him when, in my own innocence, I was mistrusted as a child? As an adult, I should have known better….

So grateful

And yet, he knows I love him and he expresses his love for me too…. As well, he is quite capable of expressing his displeasure. I respect that and I like the healthy balance.

In the mix of raising him, I seemed to have managed to reveal my love even amidst my too-hasty correction and criticism.

I’m grateful that love covers a multiple of sins. So grateful!

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Is it wise to show your vulnerability?

Vulnerability

Google defines vulnerability as, “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” 

I seems to me to be more negative than I think of vulnerability… “Being exposed” — emotionally and physically I agree with, but rather than it being the possibility of being harmed or attacked, I’d say it is being exposed emotionally or physically, to such a degree as one could be harmed but one chooses to allow themselves to be transparent in spite of the risk of the consequences of exposure.

All that being said, many social and family psychologists could debate whether parents need to appear confident and assured rather than show any vulnerability, for the sake of the security and peace of mind of their children. 

However, I’m asking: For mothers is it wise to show your vulnerability? I think particularly if there are two parents, it might be okay for one to show her vulnerability to a young child at some point. 

Mostly for the security of the child, we parents need to appear to have it all together, so the child doesn’t worry about his safety or the security of the family unit. But sometimes, maybe, the child needs to see more of our humanity as mums… 

Personal story

I once was so tired of my young child’s antics, I finally let him see my frustration through my tears. Yes, I cried a little in front of him which surprised him — I could see in his face that he saw my reaction to him and it caused him to pause and look. At that moment, he saw me. I think because he saw the human frailty in someone he loved, he stopped the naughty behaviour. 

Was it a bad thing I did? I don’t know. Child psychologists might say it was.

It was a sincere, rather than a manipulative demonstration of emotional vulnerability in response to his behaviour. But did it burden him? I don’t think so…. Rather I think it “woke him up” to the reality that I could be frail. 

I don’t think it would have been good if this were a lifestyle choice for my child-rearing. But I think at that particular moment, (I hope) it was alright for him to see my vulnerability — the real affect his behaviour was having upon me was negative; I think his seeing me sad helped him to see the cause and effect of his negative behaviour.

Confidence

Generally, I think our children need to see us exercising self confidence and self control. That is so they can feel safe even if they lack confidence or control over their situations. They are vulnerable, simply by the fact that they are smaller than adults, less experienced and less powerful than we are.

My son as a teen once said to me while I was driving and I kept repeating, “I’m not sure where I’m going..”

“Mom, you have to be confident no matter what, even if you don’t feel you are….” In the context of our situation, it was shortly after my husband’s/his father’s death. He was saying, ‘I need you to show me absolute confidence right now…’ And his frankness did shut me up and get me better focused on the task at hand.

Frankness on both sides is a good building block to a relationship with our children. 

SO the answer is Yes and No…

Sometimes it is right to expose our children to our weakness. Not usually, but sometimes. They need to know they are safe. But sometimes, they need to discover we are not brick walls but open windows… open to what life brings, courageous to deal with it, but also vulnerable to the circumstances they might inflict upon us. 

It’s important for our children to feel safe. But they also need to know that the world — or they — can cause us grief, from time to time. It is never for us to make them feel ashamed or guilty. But they do need to learn their negative behaviour can effect us, especially if they have not yet discovered their behaviour does impact other people’s lives. 

As human beings we are not responsible for how someone receives our personalities, whether they like us or whether they don’t. But we all do need to learn our behaviour and our choices do impact other people. Once we know that, it’s up to us to decide the value of our freedom verses our responsibility toward others in our day to day lives. It’s a basic aspect to socialisation.

Sometimes allowing our children to see our vulnerability will help them in their social development. At some point, our only recourse might be to let them see our weakness when they are exhausting us or frustrating us with their disagreeable behaviour. One way or another, our children need to learn the cause and effect of their behaviour on others and at some point, that may mean we need to let them see us just as we feel in response to them.

Every blessing as we all learn to navigate parenting better and better!

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For Mothers

For Mothers: TIME

On the last blog post, I touched on the issue of Time as an important part of parenting. On this occasion I’d like to focus upon it.

Time

A mother’s time is taken up with work, our partnership with the other parent (or compensating if parenting solo), attention to our children’s direct needs, taking care of our health and that of others’ in the family. 

Feeding, clothing, ensuring child development: physically, educationally, socially, emotionally, spiritually cannot really be delegated, though the brunt of time spent at school or with church-related activities, social “playdates” and heart-to-heart conversations with others does help. But really, you and I know that ultimately, “the buck stops here” which is why I created this blog in the first place.

For Mothers

This space is about you and me, the mum for whom there is no retirement — not really. 

And so we need to be able to balance our time: our attention, our devotion, our awareness, our support for our children, always balancing a giving with a letting go as they grow.

We need time for them, time for others, time for ourselves. 

The best use of our time

Learning to prioritise is key. How do we do that? 

For me, it has always been considering that, in the long run, what is important > is more important than what is urgent. That fits for every compartment of our lives.

Compartment of Parenting

And so, yes the late homework or the fire on the stove needs attention. 

But somehow, we mustn’t drop the ball on the important: consistently leading and guiding our children to their homework (so it isn’t late), to brushing their teeth (so the emergency trip to the dentist doesn’t arise), to respecting others (so the fist fight or the trauma in the school ground doesn’t happen… or they already know how to cope when they see it coming).

“Prevention is worth a pound of Cure”

Giving time and attention to the little things, day by day, keeps, our children emotionally, socially safe and attended to as they navigate nursery and school. Prayer every night builds their spiritual awareness so they don’t have a vacuum that needs filling and gets filled with self harm as a teen. Good eating and hygiene habits ensure life long physical health and strength. 

At the heart of life is our learning to balance our time, focusing on what’s important in the long run.

Long-term vision

Taking the long view, rather than living in crisis management, will give us the ability to live and thrive. This is for ourselves and for the rest of the household.

So I guess the takeaway here is to learn to manage our time: for all us mums to let time be our friend and to allow us to manage our time as a gift, to respect and treasure it, to do the important things consistently, so that our children benefit most from the time we have to give them.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: PLAY

Play is perhaps the most important way of relating to our children.

We know the Hollywood cinematic storyline of the boy who wants to play ball with his dad and his dad never has time… and the fallout from that is stuff of the tale on screen.

We know that play is important because infants do all their learning from play: exploring their world, interacting with their toys is the way they are stimulated.

We know that mothers have so much to undertake in their traditional role as provider and parent, nurturer and bonder with their children. And a part of all of this is play.

I remember in early years being so bored with repetitive play, because it is so repetitive. But my child loved to read the same book, play the same game, over and over again. Boring yes! But his delight made it all worthwhile.

I remember the same game over and again. I remember Chinese checkers, until my son stopped wanting to play because I got better at it. Same for so many games… all good until he grew and I became proper competition (except for Monopoly… he’s still the best in the family at that!)… And yet, we need to let them win and later learn competition.

Interaction during play is important. Conversations during play are important. There is, according to “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, one love language of five which is TIME. Love is spelled TIME for many people once adult…. And for all children up to a point it will be of key importance…. Ironically, then TIME becomes our love language in relation to them as we long for any bit of time with them!:)

Please never underestimate the value of play to our children, as part of giving our time and attention. Yes, they need food, shelter, trainers and schoolbooks (or Ipads or laptops). But most of all, they need our time, and there is no price tag on that.

Every blessing to you as Mum, as we develop our strategies to keep on playing with our children, no matter how young or old they — or we –are. The games may change, but the essential value of them never will.

Sarah

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For Mothers

For Mothers: No, not everything

“Mama I want…”

One of the best lessons we can teach our dear children is

that they can’t have everything they want.

“No, not everything you want Darling.”

If our children learn that, life will be easier for them — less painful, less shocking, more peaceful. When they learn they can’t have everything they want, they learn disappointment, they learn compromise, they learn reality. It’s healthy.

Life is full of rich joy and also disappointment

Although it is important to develop a positive, “can do” attitude, we also need to learn to roll with the punches that life brings. We strive for excellence but in the striving forward, we lose some of the races we run. If we lose every race, we get discouraged and give up. But if we win every one, we get prideful and conceited. Win some/lose some is the reality of life, and learning this helps us to negotiate surprises in life, both good and bad.

What if our child doesn’t learn s/he can’t have everything?

They may find life difficult to cope with if they don’t know life has ups and downs.

They may find themselves behaving “like a bully” to get what they want because they don’t know how to accept “no” for an answer.

They may become deceitful — in order to achieve their ends. Certainly, they will be more selfish if they don’t understand the idea of compromise.

Goal setting: good and not-so-good

People who don’t know they can’t have everything set unachievable goals. Their ‘reach can exceed their grasp’ because they don’t know limitations exist. Ambition is good in order to keep us striving to improve. But it can also be soul destroying if our goals are complete fantasy. Teaching our child to accept “yes” and “no” will help them to navigate their own lives and help them to attain their ambitions with hard work and steadfast faith in themselves.

People need people

The person who has learned s/he will have disappointments from time to time will embrace life, yet will also know a contented life is not based upon achievement but on mutual admiration — one person to another…

Life is full of love when we learn to share, to accede to someone else’s preferences from time to time while still standing up for our own when it is vitally important. 

Life is rich and worth living when we share with others and build relationships based on mutual respect and trust. 

Life if full of rich relationship when we learn compromise, the give-and-take of life.

Disappointment is an valuable experience

Teaching a child that sometimes s/he can’t have what s/he “really wants” can be disappointing, but disappointment lasts for a moment. The lesson of overcoming disappointment and moving over the next hurdle will last a lifetime.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Pamper yourself

We need to look after ourselves… learn to pamper ourselves… so we can be our best for our families.

Self denial is not necessarily a virtue. If we’re flying in a plane and there is turbulence, what are we told to do when the facemarks fall from above our heads? We’re told, put ours on — first.

Self care

As mums, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t have the energy, health, or rest to take care of our families.

Life is a balance, and part of that balance surely includes taking care of ourselves.

On the other hand, self indulgence is equally unhealthy, both for ourselves and our families. So how do we find a balance?

What is pampering?

Occasionally, can we ensure we have time to ourselves?

At least once a day, can we make sure we have a quiet time where we can gather our thoughts, gather our strength, gather our emotions and acknowledge if we’re struggling?

At least once a week, can we ensure we give ourselves a treat: a bubble bath or a longer-than-usual shower; a walk in a quiet spot near our work or home; a sweet dessert or a trip to the cinema (or watch a particularly lovely film broadcast on tv)?

Pampering is devoting attention to ourselves for a specific period of time. It doesn’t have to cost money. It is occasional, not a way of life. It doesn’t have to take a l-o-n-g time or cost a lot of money (or any at all in fact). It does need to be a consistent practice in our schedule to give care: to you!

Then we are refreshed

Mums, we are worth giving kind attention to ourselves. And it makes us better mums, just as a breather gives new life to a long distance runner. 

Let’s give ourselves a little break every now and then, so we can run that hard parenting race we so long to complete well.

Every blessing.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Waiting

Waiting is something we mothers have to do a lot of, right?

Our small children

We wait for our children to finish their food.

We wait for our children to follow us, to finish talking, to do their homework.

We wait for our children to fall asleep at night.

Our teenagers

When our children become teens there is a different sort of waiting…

We wait for our teen to say “thank you.”

We wait for our teen to look at us, to share with us, even to speak to us!

We wait for our teen to get home in the evening.

Our young adults

When they leave home, we wait for our offspring to call us.

We wait for our offspring to visit us.

We wait for our offspring to make their way: with a job, a family, a life of their own.

We wait.

And hope.

And pray.

And so, for mothers, our task is simple: 

Let us learn to wait with grace: patience, hope, dignity and encouragement. Rushing will not change anything and will make the waiting stressful and unpleasant for us all.

Let’s learn to wait, knowing our children want to please, want to grow, want to live just as much as we want it for them. As we wait, they will draw closer, knowing our love, compassion, nurture and hope for them is just as strong as theirs is for themselves.

Living a family life is a joint effort. Let’s do it together and do it the very best way we can: Together.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Let them run… without helmets

Dear Mothers, Fathers, Governments, 

Please allow our nations’ children to play….

This is a plea

Today around the Western World, children are sanitised to such an extent that playground equipment is limited, sport is limited, on the basis of health and safety.

Councils safeguarding children ban all sorts of play equipment. Helmets must be worn when cycling, skiing, sledging… all in the name of safety.

But where is the fun!?

What are we all so afraid of?

I’m all in favour of protecting our children. Mothers have an innate sense of “seeing the danger” that children don’t have, because they don’t have the experience and they don’t have the inbuilt sense of forward thinking that mothers have.

But in safeguarding physical safety, are we not stunting our children’s growth socially, emotionally, and even physically, as we limit their freedom and their experiences so that they learn to self protect?

May I encourage us all to allow our children to play freely. Can we not find a meadow, find a garden, find a space where there is no traffic, and let them play unhindered?

Every blessing, 

Sarah

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For Mothers

For Mothers: If you make a mistake, fess up!

Mothers, we are human, fallible. The best thing we can do if we make a mistake is to confess to our children the mistake. Letting them witness our humanity is good for them, good for us, and good for our relationship.

Share only what is directly relevant to them

Of course the mistake needs to be directly related them. I don’t mean we confess our deep, dark secrets to our children. They don’t have the emotional capacity to deal with parental issues or adult problems (unless they are 40 themselves!) But if we’ve done something wrong: been too harsh with them, made a wrong judgement call, not been available to support them, or not shown up to an important event of theirs, we need to recognise and apologise.

To show respect for them, if we’ve done them wrong, we need to admit it when we realise it. “I’m sorry” isn’t on a one-way track. Yes, they need to learn to apply “sorry” to us and to others as they are growing up. But we need to be able to model it as well as teach the principle. As with everything, they learn from our behaviour.

Another reason to apologise to our children when we’ve made a mistake, is to build communication. Heart-to-hearts are nourishing for the relationship, bringing us closer to one another and building mutual trust.

Whatever is age appropriate

It’s important to safe guard our children’s innocence. And we need to be aware of their limitations in experience and understanding. So when we apologise, it isn’t a confession of our souls they need to hear (though that is probably what we need to do for our own release from our guilt and regret) but a simple awareness we’ve come up short and an apology.

To bear our souls may be what we need to do, and therefore we may need another adult to share that aspect with. 

No excuses or explanations

We apologise for our children’s sake. We don’t need to explain or give an excuse. That’s for our benefit, not for theirs. Instead, an earnest, heartfelt, sincere “I’m sorry, I made a mistake” keeps the child free from any responsibility and gives them a chance to receive from us. If they’ve been cross or simply need to forgive, an open-ended, unconditional apology from us will give them the space to do that.

An apology is for their benefit but we benefit too

To say sorry to anyone is for the benefit of the person receiving. The great thing about an earnest apology though, is that it also releases us from our shame, guilt, and a break in that relationship.

It’s important to remember that the focus is on the child and not on ourselves when we have to fess up!

Every blessing,

Sarah

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For Mothers

For Mothers: trust your instincts

Do you ever wonder whether you should say “yes” or “no”?

Do you ever consider you might have been too harsh? Or too lenient?

Do you ever wish you had all the answers for your children’s demands and desires?

The truth is, you do know best!

You can trust your instincts, I believe.

I wholeheartedly believe that innate within us, is the knowledge of what is the best way forward when we have a decision to make for our children.

Give it time

When we give ourselves time to ourselves, when we resist the demands or urges or persuasions of our children, when we examine what we know of their personalities, needs and desires, we will know the best way forward.

So, let’s take time to reflect. Let’s take time to ponder our finances. Let’s take time to weigh the strengths and vulnerabilities of our children, and then make a choice confident that in the long run, we know what is best for them.

Being honest with ourselves, then being honest with our children, we can build them to be the best people they can be.

And that surely is the objective for us all.

Every blessing and Happy New Year!

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For Mothers

Shall we spoil our Children at Christmas?

It’s Christmastime! 

What’s THAT mean? Does it mean overabundance of food, gifts and family fun? 

Or does it mean stress and disappointment? 

Or does it mean an opportunity to teach about giving while giving?

My short message today in light of Christmas coming is that the focus can be about giving but it can also teach about giving.

There are opportunities to serve others — in food banks or soup kitchens. 

Shall we spoil or children at Christmas?

There are opportunities to show our children how much we love them, how proud and pleased we are for them, how much we want them to enjoy themselves… In a word: we want them to enjoy life! 

But I also believe the over-indulgence that is prevalent in a our society is not a good thing. 

Some people have plenty, some have little. The emphasis on the material leaves some outside, puts a huge amount of pressure on those with plenty to over-indulge.

That’s a lose/lose to my mind.

What is a win/win?

I look to achieve a balance between rest and enjoyment ie Leisure

And

Modelling and teaching self control.

A child who is spoiled may come to expect and even demand his desires be met. Once entitlement sets in, a child is robbed of the value and rich blessing of receiving — because they’ve become jaded… they’ve learn to think it is owed to them. 

Instead, I’d hope to model a balance between giving and restraint; refraining from excess, seems to me, to encourage an appreciation of what is given (as well as encouraging conditions for a bit of self control in this over-indulgent world in which we live). 

Do we or don’t we?

So do we spoil our children at Christmas? There’s no such thing as too much love.

So yes, let’s spoil ‘em. But let’s spoil them with love, encouragement, hugs and respect. A gift, a turkey, a sweet is great; that can be a fun part of loving. But food and gifts are not the main part. Just a part. 

That’s what I think… How about you?

Happy Christmas whatever you aim to do.

I’ll be back in the New Year — 2024!!! Oh My!!

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For Mothers

For Mothers: When tragedy strikes

Recent tragedy

Recently, 4 boys on a camping outing in North Wales went missing. 2 days later their car and 4 bodies were found off the road. They’d crashed. Such a tragedy. Such a waste of young life. Such a shame.

How can we help our neighbours when tragedy strikes

The parents will be distraught. The community will grieve. What can we do to help? There must be something…

When tragedy strikes, we must allow ourselves to put ourselves in the others’ shoes. What can we do? We can learn the facts and offer prayers and good will to those who suffer. We can put ourselves in the place of these boys’ families and offer words of kindness toward them. Our attitude, though these families may never know us, can be fresh air to the nation and to our families. 

Loving attitude

Our nation of some 70 million people needs to rally round and be supportive toward one another. In a world going mad with violence within nations and between, we can contribute for the better if we choose to. The positive trickle effect of pouring good will toward others cannot be underestimated.

So I advocate kindness toward one another, and compassion.

I advocate a refusal to gossip or speculate.

I encourage us all to be more positive, more hopeful, more unified in our communities, refusing to enter into an “us versus them” mentality. 

The pebble into the pool

Here is an analogy I propose for consideration: the ripple effect, the pebble in the pool.

If a stand on a bridge and toss a pebble into the pool below, what happens? The pebble causes the water to stir doesn’t it, before movement stops once again. And although the pool looks as it did before, that pebble is now in the pool.

We can each cause a ripple for better or worse. What can we as mums say or do to make the outcome of this horrendous accident a positive for our own children, for our families, for our communities, for our nation? Surely we can each make a difference.

What can we do to make this terrible tragedy bring forth something positive? Let’s throw a pebble of hope, good will, love into our nearby “pool” and bring our communities closer together.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Taking Pride in our Children

I have guarded myself against saying, “I’m so proud of you!” to children, because I don’t want them to get big-headed. I’m all for building up their confidence, but not so much their ego. It’s not an easy balance to strike.

The question is: how is taking pride in our children a positive or a negative for them?

My son is modest. My step daughter too. I am proud of them both, in a good way.

Pride goes before a fall

There’s an old expression that says, “Pride goes before a fall.” It isn’t Shakespeare, it’s a proverb from the Bible. I remember reading how to books about raising children, which encouraged parents to build confidence, self respect in their children — but not self esteem. My poor kids! I love them lots and lots, but shied away from empty praise. Maybe they missed out:(

But the trouble with pride is that there is a good aspect and a bad aspect.

Pride can make us feel loved and confident, but it can also make us feel entitled or arrogant. It can give us confidence or it can create unwarranted expectation. It can give us a boost or it can push us to think we are better than others. Without pride, we can become wall flowers, timid and lacking any sense of capability. Yet with pride, we can carry a superior attitude.

Like I said above, it isn’t easy to find the perfect balance.

What is “the fall”?

Pride leads us to “fall” if we get too big for our britches! When we most expect we are invincible, this is when we are most prone to stumble. When we believe the press (ie friends or family) that states how wonderful we are, we can succumb to ego and fall into the trap of making impulsive or unwise decisions believing we can do no wrong. “The fall” is unpleasant and can lead to change — for the better if we learn from our mistakes.

Teaching self respect not self esteem

If our children take themselves seriously, developing respect for themselves based on a track record of responsible behaviour and growing maturity, when they make mistakes — and they will because we all do — they are most likely to benefit and grow from the experience.

If our children are puffed up based on empty praise, they are less likely to have the tools to handle difficulty and when they make mistakes — and they will because we all do — they may struggle to handle constructive criticism and disappointment.

To my mind, building self respect in children is superior to building self esteem. If I had to choose one or other, I’m glad I opted to promote self respect. Both people I had a hand in raising are independent thinkers and very resilient. But I do wish I flattered a little bit more… they are lovely people and I wish I’d told them that more often when they were little.

Take the long view

I guess the bottom line is that I think it’s important we take the long term look in raising our children. What is our goal for our children? What is the step by step way to lead them toward that goal? Little things do matter… So, can we let little things lead our children towards developing courage, integrity, good citizenship and self respect? I hope so because that way, they can have a more excellent chance to make good choices regarding their work ethic, peer choices… becoming people we can like and be proud of:)

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Protective instinct in war

Mothers Protective Instinct

Aren’t we as mothers called to protect our children? We are predisposed to focus our attention on the safety of our children. So what do the mothers in Israel experience right now as their sons and daughters who are in the IDF reserves go off to fight?

How do mothers feel about their children’s safety right now in Israel? And in Gaza as war rages around them? And in Ukraine… And all the other places where there is war?

How do the mothers care for their children caught in a war?

The only thing I’ve learned from intense stress caused by serious illness, is to be calm, to be confident that all will be well. That helps the children get through. At a young age, they see us as omnipotent. If we say “Everything is going to be alright” they believe us and accept our words. And it is true, because ultimately, things do work through to peace once again. When we can focus on ourhope rather than the turmoil, it will help our children enormously.

As for ourselves?

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is the tree of life.” 

It’s an old proverb but isn’t it true?! When we feel hopeless, we lack energy or enthusiasm, we lack optimism, we feel low. But when hope is fulfilled, it is such an exciting time. Think of the runner who wins the race. Or the actor who wins an Academy Award. Or the student who earns an A*!

We must focus on the possible. Even in war, as in medical challenge, we must continue to hope for survival. Surely this is what is happening in the Middle East and elsewhere right now… Hoping for survival seems small when your world is falling down around you. But it is the way forward.

Another Proverb

“The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness,
But who can bear a broken spirit?”

It is vital that we keep up our own hope so that we can give hope to others. Our hearts might be broken in war, but we must not allow it to break our faith that good will win, ultimately, or our will to live, love, laugh once again.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Empty Nest

My son has just gone off to university. He’s an able young man with a bright future, in spite of having lost his father prematurely and some of the usual knocks life throws. I love him and, by GOD’s grace, he loves me. Separation hasn’t been difficult, nor easy, it just is.

The Empty Nest

When the home is emptied of children, it’s called “the empty nest”. In last week’s For Mothers post I discussed the nesting instinct we mothers have and a bit about building the nest for our own comfort and for that of our family’s when partner/spouse and children come along.

Now, as I’m in the process of adjusting to my son leaving home, it seems timely to discuss this season of life.

Independence

The more we have enabled our children to grow independently from us, the easier this phase of life will be: when our children grow into adulthood and eventually leave home.

Independence is important but not at the expense of relationship. So how on earth can we find the healthy balance between loving but not doting, freeing but not abandoning our children to the big wide world?

For me the three keys have been honesty, a listening ear, and respect.

Modeling Honesty

I’ve had to level with myself numerous times; I tend to be self centred and opinionated sometimes but especially as a parent and I try to curb that. The best thing I can say is that when I feel afraid, I know I must put fear aside and not make any choices based on fear but rather on love. 

When we look into our world so many decisions are based on fear and they have — from my perspective at least — not produced good outcomes. So, I scrap fear in favour of love. When I love my son rather than fear for his welfare, I release him to make his choices and trust his common sense and basic desire (which as parents my husband and I worked hard to implant in him from a young age) to do the right thing will win out. There is an old proverb from the Bible which says, “train a child in the way he shall go and when he grows up he will not depart from it”. Both my husband and I poured a lot of teaching of right and wrong into our son from the time he was little. We’ve seen him apply it in his teens. Now it’s time to trust him to live as he’s been taught.

I can honestly say I’ve never lied to my son and that supplies fresh air into our relationship. I’ve sown enough time and energy into our relationship that I know he’s honest with me. He doesn’t share a lot, but he doesn’t lie to me. That keeps the bridge of communication open.

A listening ear

I’m not sure I’m the best at listening but I do try and I want so much to hear my son’s views and perspectives, anecdotes and experiences. I hope and believe he knows I always want to learn what he’s thinking or doing… without prying.

Respect: Putting myself in my child’s shoes

I cannot possibly count the number of times I’ve reflected back on my own childhood and (especially) my youth, when attempting to assess how much responsibility to give my son at home and how much liberty and freedom.

As a youth, I was temperamental, headstrong, aloof from my parents, and miserable. Fortunately for both of us, my son is much more cooperative than I was. But my own history has helped me to better understand when my son is agitated with me or when he wants his privacy. 

I’ve often made mistakes but my desire has been for him to relate to me in a way that is meaningful…. to keep the relationship in tact rather than to allow it to break or to be purely superficial.

Time will tell how he gets on.

Moving forward

As for me, I’m exploring new places this month and spending extra time with friends so that I don’t pine:)

That’s the immediate term.

Going forward, I don’t know what this next chapter holds for me, but I’m open to what’s in store. And for him, I hope this adventure of life creating his own boundaries is exciting, engaging, safe and fun.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Hope

As mothers, hope is something we have for our children. We hope the best for them, we hope for their successes, hope for their friendships, hope for their health and safety, and for their futures.

What is Hope?

An Oxford dictionary definition says hope is: “a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.” We care, we expect, we desire for a particular event or change to take place.

The Bible says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” which suggests hope is powerful, that it can lead to change. 

How can Hope be satisfied?

Many of you who read this blog will be people who pray. Some of you may not, however. Here is what I urge: Mums, let’s pray for our children. If you don’t know what to say, or to whom you’re speaking, it’s okay to ask!

When we ask who is listening, we begin to get a sense we have “someone’s” attention and that will help us to focus our prayers.

My prayers are spontaneous, rarely planned. That’s because I just talk to GOD, and wait for His response, as I would in any two-way conversation.

Each of us will find our way to pray…. We can wait, we can ask, we can call out or stay quiet and focused. But let’s pray for our children.

What can prayer do?

When my son was a tot, each time he bumped — a knee, a shin, an elbow or his head — I would pray. I prayed for his safety and for there to be no bruising (I bruised easily as a child so I thought this would be a good thing to pray). Do you know, he never got a bruise! Never. When he was 8 or 9, I stopped praying, trying to encourage him to pray for himself. In the meantime, he had a bump and showed me his toe, with a big blue bruise. “What’s that!?” he asked. It was the first time he’d ever had a bruise… at 8!

Prayer works!

I pray to Jesus

I don’t seek to impose my prayer life upon you. I just encourage you, if you pray, to pray to the One with the most power to heal: Jesus, also called Yeshua (in Hebrew). He has the most power to respond… He intercedes for us, He sits at the right hand of the Creator of the Universe. He answers me and He can answer you too.

So, Hope

We don’t have to hope blindly but can ask for help from the One who answered prayer 2000 years ago, and who answers even today. We want what’s best for our children… What are we waiting for!?

Every blessing,

Sarah

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For Mothers

For Mothers