The single most important rule for parenting, ever…

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What do you think the single most important thing to hold on to whilst in the midst of parenting your beautiful little children is? What is the rule above all other rules that we should remember and live out every day? The thing that will help them grow into kind, mature, well-rounded adults? I would argue that the answer is found in Matthew 22.

Once, when asked what the most important rule for life is, Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22 v 37-39). Don’t we all love it when Jesus makes things a little easier for us to understand? This rule for life is one of the simplest yet most remarkable ways to interact with life and can be related easily to our parenting skills.

Often it is hard to consistently love others, or God for that matter. However, Jesus said it is THE most important rule so we should probably take a closer look at this one!

Loving God first

The first main point here is all about putting God in his rightful place. Responding appropriately to Him for all He has done for us. As mammas, we are reminded every day of his love for us. Every time we look at our children, we can remember how God creates life, and that he always creates with a purpose! As He is the one who created us, our beautiful children and everything we see around us, He is surely worthy of all our love?

Take a moment to think about all God has given you and all he has done for you.

Remembering just some of the things God has done for me, and all I have to be thankful for, helps me to love Him in a deeper and more intimate way. Every now and then I like to ask the family at dinner time to tell me 3 things they are thankful for. It’s so healthy to teach children (and ourselves) to remember the good things in life and to say thanks for them.

Another way that I have found helps keep God in his rightful place is to get outside in nature. When I get outside it calms me and brings me back to that place of remembering that God is awesomely powerful and that he loves me. It helps me rejig whatever mess my priorities have slipped into, and it gives me a second to remember who is truly in control. So, get those coats and shoes on and step out into the fresh air for a while. 

With all these beautiful blessings around we must also keep in mind that one of the major pitfalls that us Mammas often fall into is to put our children ABOVE God! Sometimes we may lose sight of the fact that our kids were created by God and given to us as a gift, but they themselves are just created beings, they are not the creator and because of that we must not idolise them!

We too easily forget that God is in control when it comes to our kids. We must love God with all our hearts, all our souls and all our minds and we must watch that we do not only give God part of our heart (as long as he keeps our kids safe)!

We need to keep God in the place that only God has a right to. He alone is number one and should remain so. Our children are a huge blessing and a large responsibility, but they are not God. We can be setting them up to fail if we treat them this way.

Loving Others

The second half to this important life rule from Jesus, is loving others as we love ourselves. Firstly, let me say that love often flows easily for our children, but not always! There are days when we get angry and sometimes even raise our voices (shock horror!)!

There are definitely days when our children are just slightly more annoying than other days but we are called to love them no matter how disobedient, noisy or messy they are becoming!

One part of the love that us Mammas are called to give is through service. Next time you are folding the washing, and nobody is there to help you, or you are tidying up, for the 100th time that day, a mess that you did not make, remember this is your training ground to becoming the God filled woman that you are called to be.

We can serve the members of our family with a smile, and we can train our hearts not to resent always being the one to pick up dirty socks (from the strangest of places) because God has given us a family! No matter what shape and size our family comes in, they are a gift to be cherished and loved!

Alongside that service, we are called to LOVINGLY discipline our children. Proverbs 13 v 24 tells us that “the one who loves their child is careful to discipline them.” Our children desperately need to learn about guidelines and consequences. It is actually good for them and makes them feel safer to explore life. They can learn about what is right and wrong, what might hurt, what is wise, what might upset others…. This gives them pleasure and helps grow self-confidence.

Another element of loving our children is the gentleness that Jesus himself so often shows. Children need to experience that tender, intimate love that we feel for them. That love we feel when we are holding our baby close to feed them, or when our children are sick and we lovingly stroke the hair from their face and place a kiss on their cheek, or simply when we curl up in front of a fire to read a good book. Children thrive when they feel that safe, close love from you.

“Love and affection are essential to a child’s healthy brain development. A child’s feelings about themselves, how confident they are and how well they cope with stress, are all affected by the way their parents respond to them.” (Make time for love and affection (suitable from birth) | GOV.WALES)

So, my encouragement for you today is to make time to think about, pray about and live out what Jesus tells us is the most important commandment and how that fits in with your mothering. As you learn to serve your family more wholeheartedly and you teach your heart to love God more fully, I pray that you would experience the beauty that comes the other side of self-sacrifice and that you would have a fresh realisation of how loved and cherished you are.

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