As I grow older I am amazed at how life moves on, sometimes in gentle circles other times in violent upheavals.
Today I sit in front of my large sliding glass door, sunshine washing over the countryside, a lazy warm breeze keeps the leaves on the trees waving and brushing the sky. During our younger years, there were always so many things needing to be done and most of them needed to be done yesterday. Keeping up with all the chores of raising a family in the nurture and admonition of the Lord was a task not for the faint of heart.
At one time there were the old tried and true methods of raising children. But that got thrown out in the forties and fifties with Dr. Spock and his book. Now we have all sorts of rules and for some reason, nothing seems to be getting it right.
Raising children is taken too lightly, without enough prayer and forethought. When raising our children, my prayer always was I know I won’t do everything perfectly, but Lord don’t let me make big, horrible mistakes.
Thinking through what you want children to be and do is important. Good families don’t just happen. Goals of what you’re aiming for should be written down and prayed over. We wanted our children to be followers of Christ, to be honest, and respectful and to grow into well-functioning adults. Some other things we thought we were teaching were thankfulness and love of parents and grandparents.
I have had people tell me in the past, ‘you have the nicest family’…and one of the most gratifying statements was one I overheard by a middle-aged sister in Christ when she told someone else, ‘you know the boys I really like are those Westphal boys…’ and the proof is in the pudding as they say.
These many years down the road I see I should have prayed over some of these things more than I did. Honestly, no one ever told me about making a list and praying over it. I’m sure things would have been different if they had. Maybe a list and a prayer for each child as well.
Too often we throw things out in a desperation prayer and hope for the best. Parents need to realize the mistakes they make in raising children may last into the future for many generations.
Many of our first principles were carried all the way through our rearing of children. At one point our oldest two boys let me know that they were ‘breaking dad and mom in’ so the rest of the kids would have a better time of growing up.
Well, now there are several things you do and several you don’t do as a child. Possibly telling your parents such a thing is questionable. If I saw something I believed I was doing wrong, yes, I would be open to changing it. Breaking me in so I’d be more lenient? Not so much.
Oddly enough their intentions were shown to be more breaking dad and mom in so they could do the things they wanted to do. We had our first six children in ten years then ten years later we had the last child.
Within those twenty years, Old Fuzzy and I did jettison some ideas we saw as nonessential and rearranged other principles. Instead of lauding dad and mom for our progressiveness the oldest two now complained.
“You aren’t raising number seven the way you raised the rest of us…” Well, alrighty then. Having learned many things in those years, I didn’t argue with them I told them, ‘We heard so often what crappy parents we were we thought we’d try something different.’
One thing I learned was not to allow someone to dump on me. Everything in life isn’t mom’s fault. When I saw our youngest son begin repeating behavior we had witnessed in the oldest child? We put a stop to it.
After being disciplined for doing something wrong, young fuzzy said angrily to me, “You got me in trouble.” I told him ‘Oh, oh, repeat after me, I did something stupid and I got myself in trouble. IT’S NOT MOM’S FAULT. There were a number of times in the next few years in which he learned this truth.
Before, with the oldest, I thought it was just a childish behavior that he would outgrow. But the oldest never did, and we nipped it in the youngest when it raised its ugly head.
I was part of a disjointed family as a small child. As I grew older I became more like an only child, my sister being six years older. My grandparents grew older in their life and didn’t really need a (1960s vintage) teenager type.
When I lived with my mother I lived like a lone survivor. She worked all day and when she got off work she went to the bar until it closed then she got up the next day to do it over while I went to school.
In high school, I was on my own in life. But I had realized at a very young age something wasn’t right in my life and in searching for God, Jesus found me and after I returned home, I found Old Fuzzy—at that time he wasn’t an Old Fuzzy yet, he was dashing and debonair.
Yet, the first year of marriage was stressful, then finding ourselves expecting our first child, it was all a new experience for me. I would be the first to admit our oldest child bore the brunt of my struggles to become part of a functioning family.
The song Day by Day comes to my mind. God only gives us one day at a time for a reason. Today is peaceful and quiet, busy but not stressful. That hasn’t always been the case and may not always be true, but today it is and we are thankful for it.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.