Faith, Parenting

Are we ever really ready for parenthood?

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If someone had told me what motherhood was really like I wonder if I would have gone through with it.

Now don’t get me wrong,  I adore my sons and I would not part with them for all the world, however I don’t think I was entirely prepared for parenting. I am not talking about the sleepless nights associated with newborns,  or even the challenging tantrums that lasted way beyond the terrible twos, I am in fact talking about the huge heart wrenching responsibility of raising a little life. From the moment they were placed in my arms as wriggling newborns, my life and world was completely turned inside out and I was captivated by my sons, and my maternal instinct towards them flooded my soul.

My heart swells with pride whenever I think about my boys, they are both so individual and their smiles simply light up my day. Their personalities are so different yet so complimentary, and I love how they approach life so differently. The thought that my words and actions will mould them into the men they become is more than a little daunting however, and I reminded daily of how much I need to teach and invest in myself in order to do the same for them.

More than this though, I realise that it is external influences, often that are outside my control, that can have the greatest impact on and be the greatest threat to my children. When I look at them together, playing so innocently with no realisation about the atrocities committed across our city never mind our world, the fear I have for their safety, their happiness and their future in a somewhat hostile world just overwhelms me. I know that we are privileged to live in a civilised, democratic and relatively safe world, however the news tells a very different story with rapes, murders and most recently the horrific beheading of innocent victims from IS extremists being reported on a daily basis.

As a mother all I want to do is protect my children. They are literally my heart walking around outside my body, and they are on my mind every single minute of every single day. When they are not with me I want to know who they are with, where they are going and what they are doing. I want to know that they are safe, that they are happy and that they are not alone or afraid. My job as their momma is to love them, care for them, teach them and ultimately make everything okay but there are so many things I have cannot protect them from. I can deal with bad mouthed bullies or bumps and bruises, but how do I counteract the cowardly acts of criminals who seek to hurt and destroy? How do I protect them from fundamentalists and suicide bombers? How do I keep them from the clutches of child traffickers and paedophiles hiding in society waiting to prey on innocent children while their parents are distracted?

I yearn to offer my children the fun and freedom that I enjoyed as a child, so that they can learn and grow in the same way that I did, but I fear that this will never happen as the world we live in now has changed so much since the eighties and nineties. Where I was allowed to play out all day every day in the holidays, I know that no matter how street savvy my sons are, I would massively struggle with them playing out alone in our street much less away from home unaccompanied. Of course,  there will come a day when I have to let them go, and I will have to trust that the education we have given them at home, church and school will stand them in good stead to keep safe while out and about.

I pray for the safety of both my sons daily, not only that they would be physically safe and unharmed as they go about their day at school and at home, but also that they would be spiritually and emotionally protected, that they would guard their hearts and minds. The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future, so as Dave and I keep sowing the seeds of God’s word into our family life, I trust that this truth will prevail as my handsome boy’s become grown men and find their own way through this life.

Knowing how fast they grow up, this mommy is going to enjoy every precious moment with the undivided attention of my young charges, so that I can invest into their lives, influence them and help them to make good life choices as they enter manhood in the future, but in the meantime I am happy to stick to supervised park play dates and having friends round to stay.

R

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Faith, Parenting

They are what you speak

I am so tired of hearing the phrase ‘He is a bad boy’ or ‘She is naughty girl’ bandied around the playground or toddler group.

Now, as a mother of particularly boisterous boys, who have been more than a little challenging at times, I am only too aware that sometimes our children do misbehave. But I have learnt (the hard way) that confirming negative behaviour to a child will only entrench the behaviour even deeper, as they start to believe what they are told about themselves. These fleeting comments, these seemingly harmless words fly through the atmosphere like arrows, piercing the open, soft hearts of impressionable small people who are looking to us to see how to handle situations, how to speak over people and, heartbreakingly, what to believe about themselves.

Children are NOT bad. They are NOT naughty.

Despite the cutting remarks or physical aggression, their behaviour is not malicious and is not a personal attack on you or others around you. Children are tiny human beings who are learning what is right and wrong and are pushing the boundaries socially and physically to discover what is OK, what is acceptable. And yes, at times they will make the wrong choice. They will choose to snatch that toy, to push that child, to hit that parent or answer back in the middle of the playground. These choices and the resulting behaviour exhibited is naughty, not the child, and I would encourage any parent, guardian or carer, myself included, to isolate the behaviour and condemn this not the child in question.

Furthermore friends, if it is not your child exhibiting the behaviour, please stop before you judge them or pass comment; that little boy lashing out may be struggling with separation from a father who left his mother six weeks ago, that little girl may have a poorly sibling who is requiring all mom and dad’s attention so she is acting out to get noticed by someone.

Our words have more power than we could ever realise. The Bible tells us that our words have the power to destroy and the power to save lives (Proverbs 12:6) and for anyone who has ever been criticised, put down or gossiped about, you will know that words can wound deeper than any sword. When someone casts a careless comment to a child, saying ‘You are a naughty girl’, ‘Why do you do that? What’s wrong with you?’ or ‘He is a nasty piece of work’, they are speaking into their little, impressionable minds, into their soft vulnerable hearts and dealing them the most hurtful blow that can stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Having done The Five Love Languages, I am aware that my top love language is words of affirmation, so for me, words have a lasting effect that can have immeasurable repercussions on my emotional and mental well being. I remember harsh words spoken about me or to me from a very young age as if it were yesterday, and the comments still cause me to question my image, my ability or my talent some twenty five years later.

God spoke the world into being with his words and as we are made in His image, we are responsible for the words we speak out into and over others. Jesus himself said; “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” Matthew 12:36-37

If you have guardianship or relationship with a child of any age, please, I urge you, be careful what you say to them, in front of them or around them. Children are like sponges that soak up all that flows in and around them, whether that is good or bad, positive or negative. Don’t fill their heads with your own judgements, doubts, fears or frustrations. Make sure the words you speak into them are full of praise, encouragement and gentle love-filled discipline that will build your child into a strong, secure man or woman in the future.

And perhaps most importantly, if you do speak harshly (which we all do) don’t forget to say you are sorry. The simplest way to undo an injustice on either side of the fence is the humble apology which has the power to right the wrongs and set you both free from a vicious cycle of word flinging. Modelling to your charges how you want them to conduct and handle their behaviour – good and bad – will set them up with a solid foundation on which to build positive, loving lives.

R x

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Faith

Time to take out the trash

As a busy mom of two, it has never ceased to amaze me how quickly my bin gets full to the brim.

(Yes I realise this is probably a little gross, but bear with me on this, there is a valid point!)

With school runs, grocery shopping, laundry and a million other errands to fit in around keeping the house in a relative state of organised chaos and raising little children, it would seem that emptying my bin has become one of those tasks that I keep putting off. This largely because it is a grim job that involved handling stinky bin liners *gags* and almost always having to pick up a third of the contents that spills over the top or out of the split at the bottom of the overflowing bin liner in the process. I realise that if I just emptied it before it got quite so full then this chore would be far easier and dare I say more pleasant (if that is even possible), but when I get to the bin with two hands filled with dirty tissues, the contents of the breakfast bowl and empty wrappers I am far more inclined to simply squash the rubbish down to make room for more. Of course, its goes without saying that a bin that is not emptied often is usually fairly fragrant, and not in the welcoming cotton linen kind either.

Life can be a bit like a bin at time…. as women and mothers we take on other peoples troubles or ‘trash’ to help lighten their load and show that we care. This in itself is an admirable thing to do as we empathise with girlfriends and help them to work out their difficulties, but sometimes we take on so much and forget to empty our bin. If we don’t take out the trash so to speak, then we are left fermenting over bad attitudes, negative thoughts and stinking thinking which will affect our day to day lives. Negativity is like a cold, it is super easy to spread and will jump from conversation to conversation, clinging to each person and affecting their day too.

The devil loves it when we gossip, moan and whine about each other/our spouse/our family/our house/our job*  (*delete as appropriate.) He can simply sit back and watch us spread discontent and anger across our circles of influence so we must watch what we say and how we say it to everyone, so that a) we will be consistent and b) we do not contaminate everyone else with our own insecurities and issues. That is not to say that we shouldn’t share our thoughts and feelings, but there is a right place for us to take our trash so that we can be rid of our negativity without affecting others.

We can take any requests and petitions to God, no matter how big or small they seem, or whether they affect us directly or not. We can also carefully choose a trustworthy friend who can best advise and/or pray with us about our situation. When writing to the Thessalonian church, Paul states that we must never stop praying and praising God in all circumstances, therefore my advice is don’t let the trash bring you down, give it to God and put it out for the dustbin men to collect, because when things are looking down it to time to start looking up.

R
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