Parenting: a spotlight on your soul

Last night I went to the Care for the Family event: Mum’s the Word. Over 25o mums gathered at Everyday Church, Wimbledon for a night of encouragement and inspiration – hosted by the wonderful Cathy Madavan and Diane Louise Jordan.

There was so much I enjoyed about the night. After a frantic rush to get there, it was so lovely to be handed a cup of tea, sit down to a complimentary goody bag and bottle of water and listen to two inspiring women. Sometimes I can find the whole ‘we’re in this together’ approach cringe worthy, as speakers desperately try and show that they are just like you. Because the efforts of said speakers can have me squirming in my seat, totally turned off of what they are saying. But that didn’t happen with Cathy and Diane – somehow they had that mix of down-to-earth honesty, integrity, friendliness and authority just right. They managed to make us feel connected to them; it was definitely an evening of shared experiences. So hats off to them – I was incredibly impressed by their presentation skills.

So what did I learn? Well I was reminded of so many principles that my husband and I started off with as parents, but I guess can get overshadowed in the craziness of everyday life. Here’s some of the gems I took away from the evening:

Put yourself first – if you are frazzled you will have a short fuse with your kids. I think this is one that us mums find really difficult to do, because we can feel guilty about focusing on ourselves. We usually come down the bottom of the list of things to do and people to care for. But, as we were reminded last night, if you don’t look after yourself how can you hope to give out well to your kids?

Find the right priorities for the season you are in – we are all at different seasons and have different kids and different priorities (I loved how they kept emphasising the fact that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach). We were challenged to look at our diaries and see if they reflect the priorities we have currently. I’ve never thought of doing that so I’ll definitely be trying it!

Keep a long-term view – every now and again stop and think about what you are doing with your parenting approach. Rather than just muddling through the daily mess, step back and check whether your approach is building confidence and security in your child(ren).

Give your kids roots… and wings – I love this one! Our kids need our help to grow solid, deep roots but also need the confidence to be able to fly.

As a parent the days feel long but the years are short – so true!

Diane’s three tips:
It’s all about love
Seek to understand
Look beyond the behaviour – yours as well as theirs

That last one really struck me and so I’m going to be totally honest here. I’m sure (I hope!) I’m not the only one, but I’ve found that parenting has highlighted my shortcomings. It has definitely been a spotlight on my soul and there are times I really don’t like what is revealed.

I can find myself reverting to childish responses when my kids push my buttons (mainly in my mind, but sometimes they come out in my actions too – ouch!). I can get so tired of dealing with the same issues that I just want to shout ‘it’s not fair!’. In fact, I do that sometimes. I go to God feeling like a miserable, moody child and have a good old moan. When I’m finally done with that, I ask Him to replace those emotions and equip me to love my children well.

My daughter, in particular, is the one that challenges me, because so often it is like looking in a mirror. I delight in seeing her fulfilling her potential, and am amazed at her creativity and imagination, but she also seems to have the same weaknesses as me. Sometimes I feel totally helpless and ill-prepared to guide her through how to deal with them, as I haven’t got all the answers myself and am still struggling with some of the issues too. But I’m learning that God is the source of all wisdom so I can ask Him for keys to unlock the issue for both of us. I’ve found also that it can be helpful to share honestly with your children when you make mistakes or are struggling. If I can model to my kids how to take those things to God and deal with them in partnership with Him then hopefully that is a habit they will cultivate too.

Being a mum is SUCH hard work – who knew we had to be an expert in so many areas?!! But it is so rewarding too – and incredible that God has given us such wonderful gifts in our children. Motherhood can be isolating at times, when we are juggling so many balls we don’t have time to share notes with other mums. Evenings like last night are invaluable reminders that we are never alone. And, as Diane and Cathy said last night, we are great mums, with great kids. Let’s never forget that…

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