Parenting styles, childhood memories, and Jesus
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A Little Something Jesus Taught Me About Parenting

I was the only mom at the pool that day. As I sat there with sweat rolling down my back, perched at the picnic table in the shade, laptop out, I thought about the differences between my childhood and that of my children.

I was raised by a single mom. I say that, but I did have a step dad for several years, but he was more of a guy who lived in the same house as me than a dad. We didn’t really do stuff together. He didn’t parent me. He was just there. When he and my mom divorced, the only thing that really changed was where we lived. Everything else seemed the same to me.

My mom is a teacher, always has been (and never in my school district). She left early in the morning, and got home in the late afternoon. While she was more of a free-range parent, I never questioned her love for me. I always knew I could talk to her and I trusted her.

Then vs Now

Now I’m a stay-at-home mom. My kids have me around all the time. If they forget their backpack, they call me (that doesn’t mean I bring it to them, but they know I’ll usually answer the phone).

I walked to school (nine-tenths of a mile – just a tenth of a mile short of being on the bus route), my kids get dropped off at the front door.

I spent all summer at the pool with my friends, sometimes my mom dropped me off, but I usually walked there with my sister or my friends, because my mom worked part-time at my grandma’s meat-locker out-of-town. My kids spend most of the summer at the pool too, but there I sat, watching them swim.

Yet I had a pretty great childhood (all things considered). I never lacked anything I needed. Yeah, it had it’s fair share of ups and downs. It was a bumpy road, but in hindsight, I had it pretty good. And so do my kids.

I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. I love my mom. I know she did the best that she could, and I never felt slighted. But the way I’m raising my kids is so much different. Partly because of my husband’s influence, and partly because we are just in different situations.

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Parenting Styles & Family Dynamics

This is something I wish I would have realized a lot earlier in my children’s lives: I am not my mom. I’m not my best friend’s mom. I’m not a Pinterest-perfect mom. I am not a lot of moms. But that doesn’t make me a bad mom.

There are so many different parenting styles out there, and so many opinions about how to be the best mom, that we could never do them all. We just have to find what works for us and know that no matter what, our children will have ups and downs in their childhoods.

Attending ball games won’t make or break our children. (I don’t remember my mom ever coming to an away game, where as I have been to too many already).

Having our kids’ friends over, doesn’t make us a better parent than always sending them to someone else’s house. God made us all different. He made each family up with different dynamics.

There are certain truths I hope my children learn before they leave home, but I didn’t fully grasp them when I graduated high school.

We all stumble through this parenting thing. I don’t think anyone is ever fully prepared. How could they be?

A Little Something Jesus Taught Me About Being A MomMy Realization & Parenting Advice

So if you are that mom that’s worried about what she’s doing, if you’re stressed out about the details, don’t be. Don’t worry about what your neighbors think or how much your child’s best friend has that they don’t. Don’t stress about missing that awards assembly.

God holds our children in His hands. Yes, we are responsible for them, but they ultimately belong to Him. Surrender them to Him, and let Him guide you through this whole parenting thing.

Stress less, pray more. That’s the best parenting advice I could ever think of.

The Gospel For Parents

My kids are getting older and they aren’t perfect, but neither am I. None of us are. That’s why Jesus came. The truth is, it’s impossible to raise perfect kids. If we could do it, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to come to die on the cross.

I don’t know what the future holds for my children, but I know that Jesus will be there for them whenever they are ready to turn to Him. I know without a shadow of a doubt that they know who He is, even if they haven’t fully grasped the wonders of His grace on a personal level yet. They have the head knowledge, and someday that can transform into heart knowledge. In God’s time.

My kids have a foundation in Jesus, that’s the best that I can do for them, from here I have to surrender them to Jesus, and trust Him with their salvation. Because He is the One who saves after all.

That’s what Jesus taught me about parenting.

My kids future doesn’t ultimately depend on me. Yes, I am responsible for giving them a solid upbringing, but even if I fail, He died for them, and He can work miracles. He can save them despite my best efforts. I’m not off the hook, but He doesn’t really need me. He is God. He created me and He created them. He has a plan for them that I can’t even begin to fathom.

So yes, I should do my best as a mom, but in the end, my kids belong to Jesus. He already knows their future. My parenting style may be different from my moms. I may not feed them enough vegetables, but Jesus is what it’s all about. And He’s already given His life for them, what more could a mother ask?

So What About You?

How did your childhood differ from that of your children’s? Are your parenting styles different than that of your parents? How does Jesus influence your parenting? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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  1. Heather, what a great post! I recently came across a book by fellow Alaskan, Leslie Leyland Fields called “Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: And Eight Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt” and this post contains the same spirit of freedom that the book did. Our highest calling is to love God with all of our heart. The rest will spring out of that. I think one of the biggest generational differences in parenting styles from those of us who are parenting kids and teenagers today and our own parents is that now, we have an overabundance of self-help in the form of internet sites, books, and information in general. I think we feel like if we aren’t participating in every parenting challenge, discipleship method, or healthy cooking fad we’re failing our kids. These are just the sorts of distractions – and even idols – the enemy would love to use to derail us from that First Calling! The information age is wonderful in some ways, offering so many great tips and giving us access to encouragement and insight. But we need to be careful not to buy into the lies of the enemy that we aren’t measuring up just because we don’t parent a certain way. I know I fall into this trap daily – hourly, even!!! It is a constant battle to stay focused on the voice of the Shepherd amidst the constant chatter of information. Thank you for the reminder, Heather!

    1. That sounds like a great book, Jaime. And you are exactly right. There is simply no way to do it all, but for some reason that leads us to a feeling of shame instead of freeing us to do what we are really called to do. So thankful for the freedom we have in Jesus and the grace He has for us and our children.

  2. I don’t have kids yet, but I know this will be an area of struggle for me. My husband and I talk about how we’ll do all we can to ensure our kids grow up safe and love Jesus, but aside from prayer and doing that, we can’t control anything beyond that. Thanks for this article full of truth!

    1. Parenting grows you in ways you can never imagine. And I think the hardest part is learning that you really have to leave your kids in God’s hands. I know they are capable, but I know what I want for my kids and I wish I could make life easier for them.

  3. While not currently blessed with children in this season of life, I really enjoy reading how mothers are learning to trust and lean on God in a world of those “Pinterest perfect mothers” there is so much judgment out there that it’s almost scary to think about bringing a child into this world. However, our Savior tells us to just follow me and let me guide you. I love reading encouraging articles like this one that to go back and read for when that time does come to bring children into the world. I know with Jesus I don’t need to worry about what others think of me as a parent. All that matters is my child is loved and they know they are loved by their parents and most importantly by a wonderful Savior! Thank you for sharing!

  4. “God made us all different. He made each family up with different dynamics.” – Such a great line! Yes, my childhood is very different than my children’s. My mom worked from home until I was about 12. My dad was an over-the-road truck driver so he was only home on weekends. My husband and I had a conversation before we got married about what we wanted our marriage and parenting to be like and what we wanted to do similar to our parents or different. Both of our parents are divorced so we knew our marriage needed to be different. I work full-time and my husband stays home with the kids to homeschool! Definitely different dynamics!

    1. That is different to be sure. My husband and I came from extremely different backgrounds and sometimes that makes parenting interesting, but I love that we always work it out together and ultimately know that God is in control. I don’t think I could be a mom without Jesus on my side.

  5. Thank you for this reminder! I don’t need to compete with other moms because God hand-picked these kids for me and my parenting style. I’m so glad that God is able to give me wisdom and guidance to raise these kids even if it’s different from a friend’s or even my own upbringing!

    1. Right? I used to really struggle with that, and I still sometimes do when my kids talk about what their friends are or aren’t allowed to do. It makes me start to question my own choices. But I have to keep coming back to Jesus. Pointing them to Him is what really matters.

  6. I realized eventually that I was Alice as a mom, not a mom in a box. I’m not a cupcake on birthdays mom. I’m more of a talk out ideas late at night kind of mom. And that is ok.

    1. Amen! God created each of us just the way He wanted us, and He did not want me to be you or you to be me. I love that quote by Oscar Wilde that says, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” I think the same is true for us as moms. We just need to be the moms God created us to be.

    1. Stressing only makes it worse. I don’t know why we insist on doing it, Erin, but I’m a stress-er. I tend to stress out about everything, and I have to reason with myself that God is good and that I can trust Him. Talk myself back down so to speak. It’s crazy, but it’s my life.

  7. I’m definitely a different Mom than my Mom. I always knew my parents loved me. Always. But I show my children differently than they did. My kids get lots of hugs and words of affirmation. (I never had that) My boys know that when they are scolded, there will always be love after. (I didn’t always have that) I make sure their environment is clean (as clean as it can be with two little boys). I didn’t have that. One way I’m like my parents, my children know the love and power of Jesus. It’s good to know the differences and be okay with them. But, it’s also good to recognize similarities too! <3 Thank you for sharing, Heather!

    1. Realizing the differences don’t make or break us as moms is what was most important to me. Comparison traps are the worst, even when it comes to our own childhoods. Thanks for stopping in, Katie!

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