Girlfriends in God - May 5, 2009

May 5, 2009 
Being a Mom that Matters, Part 2 
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth 
Psalm 127:3 “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him” (NLT).

Friend To Friend 
So much of who we are as men and women is rooted in the parent/child relationship. I believe that my role as a mother will greatly affect the kind of woman my daughter will become. I also believe that moms are the primary teachers in a child’s life. Yesterday, we identified three steps we can take to be the moms God wants us to be:  

  1. Be a mom who loves God.  
  2. Be a mom who prays continually.  
  3. Be a mom who gives time.  
  4. Be a mom who encourages. 

Today, let’s talk about being a mom who encourages her children. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, we find the simple but life-changing directive, “So encourage each other and give each other strength” (NCV).  When we encourage our children, we deposit strength in them.  We need to be careful to keep their emotional deposits in balance.  Many kids are in emotional bankruptcy because constant withdrawals of criticism are made with few deposits of encouragement.  Our job is to study our kids and discover their strengths and weaknesses.  We need to understand that many times, their greatest weakness may very well become their greatest strengths.

As a child, I was very stubborn.  I know.  It is almost impossible to imagine - almost.  That stubbornness often got me into trouble, but it also made me the survivor of some very hard times.  We need to look for the good things in our children and draw them into the spotlight.  In other words, become their “encourager” and their “cheerleader.”  Everyone needs a cheerleader.

When our son, Jered, was in second grade, one of the boys in his class was what I would describe as a “sandpaper person.”  It almost seemed as if he worked very hard at being difficult and had succeeded.  None of the children in the class liked him.  One Monday morning, he came to school with both arms in a cast from wrist to shoulder.  The teacher explained that he would need a friend for the next six weeks, someone who could help him with homework, eat his lunch and go with him to the restroom.  Get the idea?  The classroom fell silent, no one meeting the teacher’s eyes.  Finally, Jered said, “I’ll do it.”  After a few weeks, Jered begin to see this little boy in a different light. “You know, mom.  He’s not that bad. He can play soccer and he is really good at math.”  At the end of six weeks, the other children began warming up to this once ostracized boy and even volunteered to help him. However, the most amazing transformation was in the boy himself.  He had become sweeter and gentler.  He just needed a cheerleader.  Maybe that is all your child needs.  Be a cheerleader for your children.

5.  Be a mom who laughs.

Proverbs 17:22 “A happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit drains your strength” (NCV).

Moms, we need to lighten up, or my daughter says, “Chill, Mom!”  Kids are fun!  Find ways to bring joy and laughter into your home.  Jered is a big hunk of a football player, but occasionally, I have to remind him of the fact that I can still take him.  He will make some irritating comment, tease me or poke me in the ribs.  I warn him and then I see the gleam in his eye as he takes one more shot.  I then begin chasing him around the house.  Jered inevitably starts laughing so hard that, when I catch him, he is totally helpless.  It is quite a sight to see!  Moms are the thermostats of the home and need to keep the emotional setting on joy.  Children get most of their first impressions of God from their parents.  I want my kids to know that God is a God of joy and laughter.  Kids need a mom who laughs.

6.  Be a mom who hugs.

Luke 18:15 “One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch them and bless them” (NLT).

Children need moms who touch them in a loving way and demonstrate healthy physical affection.  The reality is that children not only need, but crave physical affection.  It is a God-given need that is meant to be met in God-given ways.  There is healing in a mother’s touch.  Start early and never stop!  It is a terrible shock for kids to have the hugging stop just at the age when they need it the most.

One day, I grabbed our daughter, Danna, in a hug and kissed her cheek.  As I walked away, I looked back to see her wiping off that kiss.  She caught my hurt look and said, “Don’t worry, Mom.  I’m just rubbing it in!”  I know.  She’s good … and has become an affectionate young woman.  Be a mom who hugs her kids!

7.  Be a mom who disciplines.

Proverbs 6:23 “The correction of discipline is the way to life” (NLT).

Kids want and need discipline – whether they know it or not.  Knowing is our job as mothers. Discipline is a hedge of protection in the life of a child.  Part of our job as a parent is to tend that hedge, to keep it strong and in place.  If we are not careful, every day can dissolve into a never-ending battle for control.  As parents, we need to let go of what we can and hold our ground on what we can’t.

Discipline principles:

1.      Be consistent 

2.      Discipline from love ... not anger.

3.      Pick your battles carefully.

4.      Don’t expect children to act like adults.

5.      Teach kids that there are consequences to choices.

6.      Realize that every child is different.

7.      Don’t discipline until you have control of your emotions.  This last point is major.  We are the adults who should be able to control emotions.  If we don’t, neither will our children. Proverbs 29:11 says, “Foolish people lose their tempers, but wise people control theirs” (NCV).

Pick your battles of discipline and wage them with emotions under control.  Whatever you do, don’t put the light out in their eyes.  Kids need a mom who disciplines.

8Be a mom who forgives.

Colossians 3:13 13 Get along with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you” (NCV).

We teach children how to forgive others by how we forgive them!  Forgiveness is part of every healthy relationship so when we practice forgiveness, we are modeling healthy relationships for them.  We also teach our children about God’s forgiveness by how we forgive.  Be quick to forgive your child but be quicker to ask your child’s forgiveness.  My children are very used to hearing me say, “I am so sorry!  I blew it.  Please forgive me.”

One morning, I had to apologize to my daughter before she even got to school.  I got up tired and grouchy to find that Danna was not moving fast enough for me.  I didn’t like the clothes she picked out to wear.  I didn’t like what she was saying or doing or how she was saying and doing it.  I didn’t like the fact that she kept her cool while I lost mine.  Therefore, I did what any mature parent would do.  I threw a tantrum and grounded her for it!  Yes, I have provided many opportunities for my children to practice forgiveness.  I pray that it has made them more forgiving of themselves and of others.  Be a mom who is quick to forgive!

Being a mom is the hardest job on earth!  It brings out the best and the worst in you!  I know that motherhood requires great sacrifice and limitless energy!  But to invest your time and best efforts into a child, to watch that child grow and develop, is to be part of the creative majesty of life itself!  Today, commit with me to seek God’s power and plan to be a mom who really matters. 

Let’s Pray 
Father, more than ever before, I want to be a great mom!  However, I often find myself doing just the opposite of what I know is right when it comes to my kids.  Please forgive me.  Help me to apply the truths and principles of your Word as I walk in this high calling of motherhood. Bless my children, Lord, and help them to follow You all the days of their lives.  Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn 

  • Review the principles from today’s devotion as well as yesterday’s.   
  • Choose one area in your role as a mom to focus on.  
  • What changes do you need to make?  
  • Today, celebrate your children.  Give them a call.  Prepare a special meal.  Write them a special note.  
  • Choose now to be a mom that matters.

More From The Girlfriends 
A woman recently told me that it was too late to become a better mom because her children were grown and gone. While it is true that she cannot live those years again, it is just as true that she can make a new beginning from today.  Remember … there is always someone in your life that needs your love and attention.

Need help? Check out Mary’s book, Sandpaper People for ways to handle your tough child or any difficult relationship in your life.  Mary also has an online Bible Study, Light for the Journey you might be interested in.  The current topic is How to Manage Your Emotions.  Visit Mary’s online store for MP3 downloads and E-book Bible Studies, CDs and special gift items, including a beautiful bookmark for that special mom in your life, What Kids Need Most in a Mom

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Originally published Tuesday, 05 May 2009.