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To raise Christian kids in a secular world (and not lose your marbles), you need a set of hard-and-fast rules. You can do this “Moses style” and present these principles to your kids on stone tablets, or you can just gather at the kitchen table and pen an agreement there . . . (However, I think chiseled tablets would be way cool and would definitely get everyone’s attention.)
I wish I had thought to develop a covenant when my kids were young. Although they both knew the rules—since they were often repeated—there was no written documentation. We had no mutual covenant. And certainly there was no understanding when they were preteens as to why this set of values was critical to their witness, our Christian code, or our family’s honor. But if I had to develop them today, here are a few I’d bring to the table:
Honesty. We will believe you, and you can believe us. Trust is vital in our relationship, and to be clear, honesty includes full disclosure. Without honesty, the rest of the covenant falls apart. Should you lose our trust, its restoration will be hard-won. Our family is truthful with one another.
Acceptance. We will not judge you. You can tell us anything, and we will listen. We will not interrupt. We will hear you out, and we will help you out. Likewise, you will hear us out, too, and accept that our counsel is always given from a place of protection and love. Our family loves unconditionally.
Available. We will be present in one another’s company. Conversation will trump any and all electronic devices, social networks, and TV. This includes work interruptions that distract us from you. Our family is present in the moment.
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Supportive. We will help one another. We will help you with your homework and school projects, and drive you wherever you need to be; you will help with taking out the trash, making your bed, and doing your laundry. Our family takes care of one another.
Inclusion. There are no cliques, favorites, or “sides” in our family. We are all for one and one for all. Everyone is treated equally, including each person having the opportunity to unload the dishwasher at least once a week. Our family is one unit (Note: This applies even, and especially, if you’re a blended family).
Respect. We will respect and reward your good decisions as you grow. You will respect our position of authority and our wisdom to discern your “next steps.” Our family is respectful in tone, word, and deed.
Honor. We are honored to have you as our child. You will honor your reputation, your body, and your Savior with your actions. When you do this, you also honor us. Our family honor will honor Christ.
Consequences. If you break this covenant, you can count on a consequence. We love you that much. Our family upholds and defends our boundaries.
This is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. - Hebrews 8:10
Put your own covenant in writing. Post it to the fridge. Be clear. Then stand firm. Don’t let them wear you down.
Father, I pray the blessing of wisdom and discernment over this mom as she prepares her child for success in the world at large. Provide her the tools and resources to build a strong foundation for her family, to define and maintain boundaries, and to empower her children to find their voices and the confidence to use them. Open her children’s hearts to your truths and direction as they navigate the sometimes-murky and rough waters ahead.
As she mothers in this exceedingly complex world, Father, I pray you will reveal the truths you want for her and her family and that you will equip her to instill a spirit of generosity and abundance in her child. This alone, Father, could change the world as we know it. Amen.
Taken from Lord, Have Mercy by Ellen Miller. Copyright © 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.