Intentional Motherhood: Ten Encouraging Truths For Raising Kids

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Last month on This is Thirty Four, we talked about relationships. Specifically, we talked about relationships with our significant other, our relationship with God, and we even touched on relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds. For the next two months, we’re talking about time (how to spend it, how to manage it, and how to avoid wasting it) and possessions (how to be a good steward of the money and things we have).

Before we fully step into the new topic, I think there’s one more relationship worth discussing: Our relationship(s) with our children. Before I became a parent, I had no idea that any single relationship could simultaneously be filled with so much joy…and so much frustration…and pride and self-doubt…and love and fear.

 Out of all my relationships, the relationships I have with my boys are the ones I struggle with the most. My boys are not particularly difficult—though I might tell you otherwise if you ask me at bedtime; but the expectations I’ve placed on myself-- or allowed others to place on me--as a mother ARE. (That’s a topic for an entirely different blog post.)

I’ve only been a mom for five and a half years, which hardly makes me a parenting expert. I am, however, an avid reader and lifelong learner—especially when it comes to raising my boys. So today, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 pieces of parenting “advice” I’ve ever read or received.

I put advice in quotes because this isn’t the typical “Breast is best” advice on child rearing. What follows are nuggets of truth from friends, family and others much wiser than me that I’ve called to mind over the past five years when I needed encouragement. Whether you’ve got one child or ten children (heaven help you if you fit into the latter category), are a stay-at-home-mom, work full time or somewhere in between, I think words will speak to your heart as well…

  1. “Children go through life in stages. The good news is that if you hate a stage your children are in (infant sleep, toddler tantrums, teenage angst, etc), it won’t last forever. The bad news is that if you love a stage they are in, it won’t last forever. Hold on through the rough stages and cherish the good ones.” - Cherie Hadra, my mom and mother of two
  2.  “I have come to picture the heart of each child as a treasure chest…Each child whose treasure chest is full will have abundant resources on which to draw in the midst of life’s demands. As a woman now pushing fifty, I realize that those foundational years in the life of a child—those same years when I sometimes thought I was accomplishing nothing—have a lasting effect on almost every aspect of the rest of that child’s life.” -Sally Clarkson, The Mission of Motherhood
  3. “It's easy to be liked by strangers. It's very hard to be loved and connected to the people in your home when you're always bringing them your most exhausted self and resenting the fact that the scraps you're giving them aren't cutting it.”  -Shauna Niequist, Present Over Perfect
  4. “You cannot give children (emotionally) what you do not have yourself…no matter how much emphasis you place on it.” – Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
  5. “A mother sets the tone for the whole household.” – Emily Pahler, Friend and fellow boy mom 
  6. “Motherhood is God’s provision of nurture to the world and provision of sacrifice to the family.” – Brian Frost, Pastor at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC
  7. “…(one question) I use to pull myself back from the brink of debilitating mom guilt, ‘Would I ever want my children to feel this way? Would I ever want them to pursue the desire of their heart, the profession that lights their soul on fire…but then constantly second guess every choice they made because it didn’t look like everyone else’s social media feed? The very idea makes my heart want to stop. I would never want them to struggle with their worth as I have. I would never want them to question themselves to the point of anxiety. I would never want them to think their entire parenting career could be summarily dismissed over Cheerios on a random school morning. So I made a decision. I WILL DO MY BEST, AND I WILL TRUST THAT MY BEST IS EXACTLY WHAT GOD INTENDED FOR THESE BABIES.” -Rachel Hollis, Girl Wash Your Face
  8. “Focus on QUALITY time over quantity.”- Every wise and wonderful mother I’ve ever talked to
  9. “Your kids come into your life, not you into theirs…in other words, don’t change everything to accommodate your kids.” – Sarah Heath, middle school bestie and mom of two 
  10. “The truth is, somewhere in my heart is a hidden hope that maybe if I do everything right, and share the right Bible verses and pray my knees off, they will be amazing, Jesus-loving kids. There has to be a formula somewhere, but there’s not! And this is so very humbling. As parents, we absolutely need ot pursue Christ-likeness on our own. We should definitely share Bible verses with our kids, and our greatest weapon is certainly prayer. But we are not doing these things to save our children. Only God can do that.” -Lisa Chan, You and Me Forever


What about you? What's the best piece of parenting/motherhood/life advice that just happens to relate to raising children you've ever received? Share it below and thanks for reading!