On Palm Sunday we were blessed to watch as our youngest child – Cynthia, age 20 – was baptized. Before church, I pondered the 33-year parenting journey Joe and I have traveled with our seven children, and I gave thanks to God for his incredible truths that offered us guidance and strength. I share them here because we are often asked, “How did you do it?” And my answer is simple: we tried with our whole hearts to live the Truth as we understood it. Here are a few of those truths:
1) Ephesians 6.1 Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.
This is the first verse of scripture I taught my toddlers. I put the words to music and we sang the tune so often that my now-grown children can still bellow it painlessly. My thinking was that God put honor your father and mother in the 10 Commandments because it was important to him. So I made it important to me by expecting my children to be respectful and obedient.
2) Deuteronomy 6.6,7 These commands that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
This was easy to do during the 13 years we home schooled. Every day, we read from the Bible in a morning meeting I called “Conference.” Then throughout the day, as opportunities arose, I tied our life experiences with truths from God’s word. My children knew the Bible was important to our family and that Christ was central to our identity. Attending church and spending lots of time with other believers was also vital.
3) John 15.5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
All of John 15 fueled my desire to spend time with God every morning before my children awoke. I read my Bible. I journaled. I prayed for help. Christ’s words were clear and direct, and I interpreted them like this: “If you want to be a fruitful mother, you should spend time in my presence. Without me, you cannot mother well.”
4) Proverbs 17.21 He that begetteth a fool, doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.
This King James translation was my call to action, my realization of personal responsibility as a parent. On one hand, no parent can control the outcome of a child’s life. That rests with God. But we parents can control the input. Teaching my children good manners, hard work, and concern for others are a few of the ways I tried to keep them from becoming foolish. They are not perfect at all. They have sinned and fallen short like we all do. But I do believe that the sorrows I’ve experienced as a mom have been minimized by a few quality convictions about fool-prevention.
Ultimately parents plant seeds of faith, others water it, but it is God who nurtures each child’s faith to salvation.
Cynthia, Age 1.