At church this week we celebrated another Mother’s Day. I sat alone in the congregation among many other women just like myself. Our mothers are no longer with us, our children live away, and we don’t have plans to drive to their homes today. It could become a sad day if we allow it to be so, but for me, I choose to reflect and remember. I was blessed in having a mother who truly loved the Lord and desired that her children also come to know and obey Christ. As I mused over the things she had taught me, I made up my own list of the top ten things children should know. Though my list looks vastly different than my mothers, some things remain generationally the same. So I won’t talk about “wash your hands, make your bed, and say your prayers.”
Top Ten Things Children Should Know
While raising my own three children, being a part of the lives of 25 foster children, and teaching elementary school over a period of 39 years, I’ve also been involved in the children’s ministries in all the churches where we have served. Now that’s a lot of children. The things on my list come out of that context as I have observed hundreds of children over the years. Here they are in no particular order.
How to read a physical map
How to use a GPS in the car
How to answer the phone, make a call, and converse once conversation begins (Especially teach your preschoolers how to open your cell phone and make a 911 call )
How to shake hands with a firm, confident grip, making eye contact
How to entertain themselves without electronics or adult guidance
How to speak without using slang and lingo
How to manifest discernment on what should or should not be spoken in various situatiuon
To understand they are uniquely designed by God and there was no mistake made in their formation
They are somebody special to another human being – they are not walking through life alone
They have God-given gifts and talents that are unique to themselves to be discovered and developed
Mom Didn’t Teach Me To Read a GPS
It would be easy to paint a picture of a mom who has departed this life as having been some kind of perfect – but not realistic. My mother truly had clay feet, just as I do. She and I tangled quite often when it came to her child-rearing philosophies, but for the most part, she had wisdom and experience on her side, so I lost many a battle of wills.
There were many things that she expected from me – things that that I just simply could not deliver. When these clashes would occur, I would add them to my mental list “when I have kids, I will NOT do this.” It became a running list – and of course, many of which I retracted when it was my turn to parent my own children.
There were not electronic gadgets and gizmos when I was a kid and certainly no GPS to be globally navigated from point “a” to point “b”. However, there was a big dinner bell in our yard and it was a pretty good “positioning guide” in a Langdale, Alabama neighborhood.
When the Oldham children were out in the neighborhood playing, and that bell rang, the children would yell, “Hey, Oldham’s – your bell is ringing.” (That meant we had better start for home). When the bell rang the second time, the Oldham kids better be running down the hill and getting close to their yard. By the third ring, the neighbor kids would be calling out, “Oh boy, you guys are in for trouble – you’re not in the yard.” Obedience was on of those things we learned and understood well.
There were many things I learned from Mom that I would not want to take forward into my own parenting practice. But there were volumes that could be written about a mothers love, and well worth repeating in my relationships with my own little ones. Perhaps the most important thing Mom instilled in my heart was her faith. Though she hadn’t had an easy childhood, nor a care-free home-life growing up, she did have a mother who loved her and also stood by her faith.
As I listened to the Mother’s Day message at church Sunday I thought about young Timothy, the child who had grown up in the presence of a faithful mother and grandmother. Paul the Apostle wrote to Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV).
My parenting skills were as flawed as my mother before me, and will manifest in the skills of my children with their own children. Mom always said, “I’ve made my mistakes, and you’ll make yours.” This is so true. We plan to be “the perfect mom” – but fail in perfection. What is beautiful to realize, Eunice and Lois also failed in the quest for perfection, yet here is Paul calling out their faithfulness. This should give us pause to rejoice. We cannot be perfect, but we can be faithful.
My list of things children should know are for the good of their physical navigation of a real world. They need knowledge on how to navigate the social and emotional world during periods of turmoil and confusion. Lastly and of greatest importance; navigation of the spiritual world. We are created by God, in His image. We have a soul that thirsts to understand why we are here. I believe faith is the key that unlocks that mystery.
If you were to make a list, what would be on yours? If you’d like to share, I’d love to see it.