A dear friend asked me what my favorite parenting book is. My all-time favorite, if you only read one parenting book is A Mother’s Heart: A look at values, vision, and character for the Christian mother. Written by global mom, Jean Fleming, it was originally printed in 1982 and was revised in 1996, but its message is timeless. I checked. You can still buy a copy on Amazon. I’m going to do my best to pull out some of the nuggets of wisdom that have guided my own parenting journey to share with you.
“As I write this, I feel confident of one thing: almost without exception, all mothers want to be good mothers to their children” (Fleming, p. 17). This statement has guided my approach to empowering moms to be the best moms they can. It undergirds my mantra, “God in his wisdom made you the mother of your child so how can I help you be the mom you want to be?” There are times when a mom just needs a little more encouragement and support from her community to step up and be that mom.
And so, this next statement is how we should all approach parenting, “If you are a mother; you have a calling from God. God entrusts into your care a life, a future, a piece of what the world will become. (p.17)” Thankfully, the author, or God for that matter, doesn’t leave the weight of mothering a life, a future, and a piece of the world on your shoulders alone. Instead, she reminds us that spending time with God each day must be a priority. As we raise our kids we instill values and character. When we spend time with God, reading the Bible and praying, we learn to value what God values. Then we will make decisions that reflect those values as we parent our children.
I LOVE how the author encourages us to see our children in light of how God created them. Each child in the world is uniquely created and designed. God has a plan for each one of them. As parents, we are encouraged to study our children. Our children have strengths and weaknesses. Those strengths should be nurtured and encouraged to grow. And those weaknesses are a tool God can use to shape our children and cause them to rely on God. As we study our children’s strengths and weaknesses, we can tailor our prayers for each child according to God’s plan and purpose for them. “The goal of parenting is not for us to decide what we want our children to become and then ruthlessly teach, train, squeeze, badger, and cajole them into that mold. Instead, we must recognize that God has already designed them. God already has a mature person and a long-range purpose in mind. Our job is to see our children as God does- and to involve ourselves in God’s plans for them. Like a sculptor, we must try to see the final form straining to break out of the uncut stone. (p. 89)”
The author gives some very practical ways that we can teach our children in the moment. In the chapter titled Roots and Wings the author shares her view that the home should provide a solid anchor from which the child can grow to become who God created him or her to become. Years after the first edition was written research has shown that a healthy, safe, and secure relationship with Mom and Dad can directly counteract the toxic stress that many children face. Children need safe, loving homes. And it takes time, commitment, and a lot of love to provide such roots. The author then shares creative ways that she has encouraged her children to explore and enjoy God’s creation. One of her ideas that I have run with as a parent is intentionally creating fun school holidays, so that children want to be home and want to have friends over to enjoy your safe, nurturing home. Every time I read this book, I feel challenged and encouraged to step up and be the best mom I can. I also love that it reminds me that I can’t parent in my own strength. I have to rely on the One who uniquely created each one