Have you heard the song by MercyMe titled “Dear Younger Me”? In some ways that was the inspiration for this article. I had been asked to speak to a group of moms at a Christian school and my thoughts took me down a similar road that Bart Millard walked when he wrote that song.
As I look back on my years of parenting I think of hundreds of things I would do differently. I worried about way too many things and didn’t enjoy all that I should have. But, there are a few things that I’m glad I did as well.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. God creates these unique individuals we call our children and then proceeds to give them each a free will and the ability to use it. The result of that combined chaos is what we call “our family.” And family is one of God greatest gifts!
So, my thoughts went along these lines: What would be the bucket list that I would give to a dear younger me, as a parent?
- Help your child live a life that God is ABLE to bless. The most important thing your child needs in this world is God’s blessing. If you raise your children to know and love God, and live like he wants them to, your child will be blessed. Nothing matters more.
- Spend time with others. Invest in a few. Friendships are important and our kids should “spend” time with friends. Family is forever and that is where time is “invested.” Plan family times that are “friend-free” and invest in the relationships that are forever.
- Trust is power. Children want independence and respect. Kids should know that your love is unconditional but respect and privilege are earned. Teach them that if you can trust them, everyone will have happier lives.
- Success = fulfilling God’s plan. You made your own choices and your kids will too. Success is fulfilling God’s plan . . . and God will reveal that to your children, not you. Jeremiah 29:11 does not say, “I know the plans I have for you,” says your mother and father.
- Wisdom is taking the right advice. The most influential person in your child’s life will be the person that impacts their choices in their early twenties. (That is probably NOT Mom and Dad.) The greatest influence you can have on your kids is to help them know what good advice looks like.
- A relationship with God is personal, individual and essential. Does your child think about God and pray even when no one else is around?
- Kindness is crucial. Kids need to value kindness as a crucial quality in themselves and in those they call friends. A kind person is rarely lonely. A kind person is usually happy. A kind person becomes a good friend, a good spouse, and a good parent. Kindness is crucial to anyone’s character.
- No one is most important, most of the time. That statement explains itself. We don’t enjoy people who believe they are entitled to more than their share.
- If God is pleased, no one else is even a close second. Teach your children to please God and other opinions won’t be as important.
- Finally, raise your child to be the forty-year-old you want them to be. Parent with the adult in mind. You don’t want your child to “peak” in the 8th grade. This one perspective will help you make a lot of decisions in the years to come.
Dear younger mom (and dad),
Give yourself some credit!
You are working to raise your kids to know and love God.
Keep that in mind when you are looking at grades, sports, friends, universities, and changing diapers.
If your child leads a life God is able to bless, your child will have their best life on earth.
Relax. Laugh more and worry less.
The best lessons come from our mistakes anyway!
Blessings to all of you as you raise up the next generation of God’s family.
(I had the privilege of chatting with Kay Wyma and Brenda TeeleJackson on their Say Something Show. I hope you enjoy this short clip.)