A national survey by ZERO TO THREE found that 90 percent of moms have felt judged and criticized for their parenting choices, and 46 percent of moms say they feel judged all the time or nearly all the time. Wow!
The problem with this statistic is that judging and criticizing moms only causes more stress. We believe moms (and dads) need compassion and support, not criticism. Great moms can cultivate this within themselves and extend it to other parents. Here’s one example: What To Do When Your Child Loses It Outside The Home.
Great moms practice empathy.
When we practice empathy with our kids, we show respect for their feelings and their reality. It shows that we are really listening and that we understand (or at least are trying to understand) their point of view. Empathy has the power to sidestep or diffuse power struggles. It creates a safe place, emotionally, for our kids (and adults!) to experience hard feelings like disappointment or frustration. NOTE: practicing empathy does not oblige you to change or fix the situation or to back down on your expectations. Understanding feelings first is a powerful starting place as you lead your children to desired behavior.
Learn more here: How To Be An Empathetic Parent Even When It Feels Hard
Great moms practice self-compassion.
Self compassion means treating yourself as you would treat a good friend. Rather than berating, criticizing and judging yourself for your humanness, you turn your empathy back on yourself. Studies have shown that self-compassion is a powerful tool to boost your emotional resilience as well as your health and well-being (The Motivation Power of Self-Compassion). Being a mom is hard. Self-compassion paves the way to learning from our mistakes and energizes our desire to grow in our parenting skills.
“God is kind, but he’s not soft.
In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.”
Romans 4:2 (The Message)
I recently read a quote from author Alan Falding that keeps rolling around in my head and heart.
“Don’t talk trust and live worry.”
Wowza. This is so descriptive of me. I often live worry.
The month of May triggers the worry in me. The end of the school year means the end of my routine. It means letting go of what I have “mastered,” what is comfortable, known, even predictable. May whispers, “Change is coming.”
If you’re like me, change can trigger worry. I want to trust God with my future and the future of those I hold dear. But I confess there is a wide gap between my trusting words and the way I live anxiety day to day. Not seeing the future clearly or knowing what it will be like sets my mind racing with the “what ifs.” Maybe you can relate as we close out this school year. What if they don’t like their teacher next year? What if their friends are in another class? Another school? What if they are not ready? What if I’m not ready?
Here’s what I’m realizing.
I’ve misplaced my trust. Instead of fully trusting God, I consistently lean on other things in addition to God (positive outcomes, pleasant circumstances, other people, my ability to figure things out, my comfort zone) for security, even my sense of self. It’s shaky ground. When things change or circumstances don’t match the picture I have in my head, I feel zombified by a constant case of low-grade panic. Anyone else?
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
I almost wonder if we feel like it’s our job as moms to live this way. Like worrying is a sign that we really love our children well. Hear me clearly, I don’t think we can escape worry. I do think we can notice when we’re drowning in it and talk to ourselves differently. I learned a phrase recently that’s helping when my mind camps out on a worry: “I can trust God with this.”
Maybe you whisper back to the month of May and say, “I know change is coming, but:
"I can trust God with what comes next.”
“I can trust God with the next school year.”
“I can trust God with my child’s life.”
“I can trust God with my life.”
Thank you for trusting us to love and teach your child this school year. We have truly loved every minute of it. We are trusting God with all of you and whatever comes next for your remarkable little ones.
Biblical Affirmations for our Children
This school year has come and gone so quickly! Looking back over the past year, I am eternally grateful for all of the teachers, assistants, volunteers and the administration for ushering our Weekday Schoolers along, instilling Godly principles within them, teaching them life and social skills, and making God’s word come to life in an exciting way. It is truly a gift they have given our children.
The thought of summer for me is both exciting (being able to step back a bit, rush a little less, and enjoy looser schedules) and daunting (thinking about how am I going to entertain my children for 3 months!). It seems like in my household, more concentrated time together makes for more discord as well. In case that happens in your house too, I wanted to share some Bible verses that we use as mantras in my family that keep us all aligned to God’s word.
Slow to anger, abounding in love
Psalm 85:15: But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
We say this as a reminder of God’s character during a disagreement between my children, and truthfully, it helps me as a parent as well.
Bear good fruit
Colossians 1:9b-11: We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.
My kids love the fruit analogy and envisioning a tree bearing good fruit (perhaps because they love eating it so much)! Sometimes we even pretend to be fruit trees, or talk about which kinds of fruit our tree will bear that day, and how we need to be sweet like the fruit on our trees.
Do not fear, for God is with you
Isaiah 41:10: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I seem to come back to this verse again and again because it is so applicable in so many circumstances. I love telling it to my children so they remember that when they feel scared during any part of their day, they know that God is with them and they are never alone.
Make a joyful noise
Psalm 98:4: Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
When there is an abundance of complaining or whining, encouraging our children to choose joyful and happy noises instead helps them understand how important their words and tone are.
Build each other up
1 Thessalonians 5:11: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
It’s so important to teach our children to encourage each other, and this mantra is a great reminder of that. Just as our children want to be treated with kindness, they should extend that to their siblings and friends.
Also, just as our children need to be reminded of these principles, we as parents do as well. I'm always humbled when I'm reminded that I need the very same lessons I'm trying to teach my children. I will be praying for a safe, fun, and joyous summer for your family!
Amy Mixson, Faith and Family Coordinator
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”
Great parents give their children a spiritual foundation. We believe the God who knit your child together in amazing and wonderful ways (Psalm 139:13-14) also wants a personal relationship with your child (and you too!). Like a house built on a solid foundation that withstands storms and changing seasons, a life built on the spiritual foundation of a loving relationship with God has enduring purpose and worth.
Here’s the great news! Preschoolers are naturally open and receptive to God. It is easy to speak spiritual truths into their lives. A preschooler’s faith is “imitative.” They imitate or copy what they see parents and teachers do. Preschoolers use their imaginations to relate to God. They blend stories they hear with the stories they live in a way that makes a story about loaves and fishes (Jesus Feeds 5 Thousand) just as memorable as yesterday’s pizza. When it comes to Bible stories, preschoolers may miss a few details or add some embellishments. They aren’t overthinking it, they are just imagining it.
And yet...you may feel intimidated or unsure. Maybe you weren’t raised in a Christ-centered home. Or maybe you were raised in a Christian home and it left a bad taste in your mouth. Where do you even begin?
Start small and simple. Say a prayer at meals. Say a prayer at bedtime. Buy a children’s Bible and read it to your child. Ruth Haley Barton writes, “Our God is so faithful that He will fill any space we open to Him.” If you’re ready to take a step in this direction, the resources below can guide you.
Being in a Christian preschool is a great way to introduce a child to God. Going to church as a family is an important next step as well. There are many great churches in our area with strong programs for children. We encourage you to find a church home. Please remember that you are always welcome at First Presbyterian Church, Children’s Ministry on Sunday mornings.