This was a little devotional I gave for a friend’s baby shower a few years ago. A few people had asked for a copy of it, so here it is. 🙂
There are lots of people (like myself) who will want to give you lots of parenting advice because that’s how it worked for their baby (or nephew or the kid they babysat last week). Some of it will be great advice. But with the rest of it, it’s ok to smile and nod and respectfully disregard all of it. And as I go on to tell you the things that I have learned about my family, I will also say that your child was chosen by God to be a part of the your family. All through Scripture we see that lineage is important to God. In fact there are chunks of Scripture dedicated to “so-in-so begat so-in-so”. There is a reason and a purpose that your baby is your baby and you are his mommy.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that no kid is by the book (and if there is such a kid, there are about eight billion books that he could be “by”). Every child is an individual and totally different from the next (even within the same family). So if someone is instructing you about your child (whether it’s a person or a book), remember that God has sovereignly placed him in your home. He is your stewardship. He is a unique individual that God has designed. Listen to the counsel of others, but go to God Himself for instruction in raising this child that He has created.
Another thing I’ve learned (possibly the most important) is advice that I received from a dear friend. This advice is worth taking and passing along because it’s Christ-centered: preach the gospel to your kids from the very start.
It’s just good practice. I’m not a good impromptu speaker. And I’m sorry to say that I’m not a “good” evangelist. I usually tend to think things through so much that by the time I’ve figured out what to say, the moment has passed. If you begin “practicing” early, it will begin to flow more naturally. We really don’t know when our kids will be able to understand our words – especially when it comes to spiritual things. John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mamma’s womb because of Jesus. It’s never too early to point a little life to Jesus.
And as you lovingly lead your kids to Jesus, remember that we need Him just as much as they do. We are their authority not because we have learned to sin less, but simply because that is what God has ordained and commanded. So you are above your child because God has placed you there as his loving, protecting authority. But you also stand beside him as a sinner, who’s wholly dependent on Jesus. So as you preach the gospel to your kids, be sure that you’re listening too.
The last thing I want to share with you is the way that parenthood affected our marriage. When Lucas and I were engaged a lot of people would (lovingly) say things like, “Marriage is great, but it’s not easy.” And it’s not that we didn’t have any difficulties, but for the most part, it was pretty easy. We really enjoyed each other…for that first year and ten months, marriage was fun! And then we had a baby.
I went into parenthood thinking that I didn’t have a lot of expectations, but there were a lot of unexpected things that took place.
One of those things was that I became jealous of my firstborn – my Sissy Girl. All of the sudden, this new little woman was taking my man’s attention away from me. And she didn’t even do anything; she just laid there and he was smitten. Nobody warned me that this would happen (I don’t know…maybe I’m the only one), but I really had to work through it, to pray about it and set my mind on truth.
Another thing that I didn’t expect was that I began to resent Lucas and get easily annoyed with him. I couldn’t really put my finger on why. I was talking to my mom about it one day to see if she had struggled in the same way or had any words of wisdom or comfort for me as she usually does. And when I asked her why I might be so frustrated with Lucas, she said, “Well, I think some of that is pretty normal with hormones and all the changes that are going on in your life, but really it’s probably because Lucas does a lot of things better than you, and you don’t like that.”
My feelings were hurt for a second, but then I really began to see my sin and understand the root of the issue. It was true: I wasn’t honoring or respecting my husband.
I had gone into mommyhood thinking that I would teach Lucas a thing or two about parenting. After all, I was the one who had been babysitting kids most of my life…helping in Sunday school and VBS. I was the one who had spent time reading baby books on how to make our baby sleep through the night and eat well and learn a foreign language in eight weeks.
And our little girl came, and we brought her home. And I had all my ducks in a row. And Lucas shot ’em down, one by one.
I had a plan of action for every scenario, and Lucas (without meaning to), sabotaged me! He would do things differently to calm her down or help her sleep…even putting her clothes on. And do you know what? His ways worked. Sometimes better than my ways. Sometimes both ways worked. There will definitely be times when you will need to come to an agreement on how to do things. But trust your husband. Respect how he fathers. Be an example to our kids in how to honor their daddy.
Because I’m a mom and think that I have so much good advice to give you about labor and breastfeeding and getting your baby to sleep through the night, I could just go on and on and on. But I won’t. Instead, let’s go to Jesus and ask Him to give you wisdom in this new adventure.