Each stage brings a variety of triumphs and trials. The many sleepless nights with a newborn and then the relief as the sleep hours lengthen. The clinging hands to the exploring feet of a toddler. The dependence on you for every job and then the wave as they walk through the school gates.
Each individual child brings their own blessings and challenges. My eldest two girls turned out to be complete opposites despite having only 15 months between them; it came as quite a shock for me at first! The same encouragements, discipline and activities just didn’t work for both.
As my older children now begin their last stages of school, plan for careers and start part-time jobs, I have been so much more aware of how important the early years are for training and instilling good habits and godly traits.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
In these early days, life can seem a blur of activities and chores. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, tidying, classes, clubs . . . ; the list goes on! It often feels more like survival than carefully planned training and yet, even amongst the chaos and busyness, the way that we speak, act and react can be an example to our little ones.
There are things, however, that we should plan and take time to do. Finding time to read the Bible with our children is essential. Even before they can understand all that is being read, it is important to establish how important God’s Word is to us. It is also an opportunity to draw out lessons and discuss the relevance to their lives.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Praying with our children is another crucial training exercise. There must be regular prayer times, showing our dependence on God in all areas of our lives, as well as turning to God when things are difficult, or when we’re sad, worried or simply thankful.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV).
We also enjoy singing with our children, from choruses to both old and newer hymns. This is a nice way to spend time as a family. It is also a fun way to memorise Scripture, another practice which can be valuable in later life.
“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).
As my children begin to embark on their adventures independently, I hope and pray that they will always try to do the right thing. I am thankful however that I can leave them in the care of my heavenly Father.
No matter how “experienced” I might seem as a parent (or even how many experiences I have had as a mum), I have never felt that I have got it all figured out. There are always new and unexpected situations popping up. Sometimes I feel that I haven’t done anything right! Each stage can be hard, but each also brings many blessings.