Last week I introduced you to my friend Carol, her words on spending time with your kids are still influencing my daily actions. Thankfully, Carol has more advice to share with us. Grab your favorite hot drink, get comfy and fill your idea bag. If you missed the first Mentor Mom post about Carol, click here.
One of the things I love about Carol is her dependence on God. For most of her early mothering years, Carol suffered from chronic illnesses that kept her in bed. She could not do many of the things the moms around her were doing. She learned to trust God to compensate for all her weaknesses. She knew that God loved her kids more than she did and He has been faithful. Carol’s faith shines in all she does.
|Mother and daughter, Carol and Maryel|
On helping kids grow in their faith: When her kids were toddlers and in elementary school, Carol did devotions with her kids. But she backed off in Jr. High. She did not force her kids to spend time studying God’s word or praying but rather gave devotions and journals as gifts. Because Carol was often stuck in bed, her kids sometimes read Scripture to her. Carol and her family made time at Christian family camps a priority, and she and her husband required them to attend youth group. Carol prayed with her kids daily and encouraged small group participation. She thinks every kid needs spirituals mentors other than parents. Carol notes that sometimes tweens and teens want to drop out of spiritual life. Carol cautions, “Don’t let them. They have no idea what is good for them.”
Carol also emphasized the importance of making your relationship with Christ well known in your house: Confess to your kids if you watched a movie you should have walked out of, let your kids see you studying the Word, talk to your kids about spiritual things at dinner. Carols notes, “If you only take your kids to church, they won’t think faith is real. They are not going to get it.”
Spiritual dialog was a big part of Carol’s family. They dialoged about hard questions like,”Why isn’t God healing your mom?” The kids witnessed their parents making mistakes, confessing them and asking for prayer. They learned through these conversations to work our their salvation on a daily basis and what to do when they themselves made mistakes.
On monitoring movies and music: Carol knows that early on families need to make specific rules about what movies are okay to watch, but eventually, Carol thinks parents need to let their kids choose which movies to watch. Once her kids were old enough, Carol stopped saying no to certain movies but instead taught her kids to use pluggedin.com (Focus on the Family’s media review site). She taught them to pray about movie choices and to pay attention when a movie caused that sick-in-the-stomach feeling. She tried to teach them to be discerning, to have judgement through God’s eyes. Probably as a result, Carol and her husband never had much trouble with their kids watching things they shouldn’t.
On Sports and busy schedules: Because Carol was often confined to bed, her kids couldn’t be involved in too many activities. But as a long time youth group volunteer, Carol knows what busy schedules can do to family life. She advises family to limit activities (especially sports) to one at a time. She notices that over-scheduled families have no family time; parents are always separated, one with one kid, and another with a different kid often in different cities for sports. Carol has also seen kids who think their whole identity is playing a sport. Those kids sometimes get injured and then are lost and depressed because their identity is gone. Carol wants kids to have their identity in Christ.
For this reason, Carol doesn’t think families should allow kids to miss church for sports, especially regularly.
“What kind of message does this send?” she asks.
Carol’s daughter Maryel was an excellent gymnast. Her coach wanted to her train more, up to 12 hours a week which would mean missing much family time. Carol said no. And she encourages parents to say no too. Maryel was heartbroken, but Carol knew that Maryel would benefit more from being home with her family than from flipping in a gym.
A story and final advice: Carol told me about one high schooler in her youth group who called her up, excited. The girl just had the best day. A boy didn’t call. She didn’t get an A in a tough class. She had a squirt gun fight with mom. The girl said she that it was the most fun she had had with her mom in years.
I will end this awesome time with Carol in her own words, “When kids hit puberty and push you away–do not let them. Do not believe it. Embrace your kids even more. Find a restaurant she likes and start hanging out there. Do nails. Do not let them hide inside their rooms. Go lay on their beds and talk. Love them more. Don’t just tell them what they can’t do or should do, you gotta have a relationship….Don’t think it is more important to empty the dishwasher than spend time with your kids….Send the message that God put your family together. Let them know that you are thrilled to be their mom. ”
Carol, thank you so much for sharing. We are blessed to learn from your wisdom. Now go have a water fight.