For many years I was the “younger woman”. Marrying a man ten years older made me very comfortable with the 30’s crowd when I was still in my 20’s. Often in a group I was the younger one, the less experienced, the newlywed, the young mother. How quickly those years pass!
I now am rapidly reaching the stage of the “older woman”. In fact, in many ways I already am one. My oldest will soon be nineteen, I have several teens in the house and even though my youngest is three there are many things that appear to be changing. No more diapers, breastfeeding, potty training, baby food. No more middle of the night feedings and diaper bags. It’s sad in a way. But in another way, there is an exciting adventure ahead as I raise older children and watch them learn to fly.
I find myself surrounded by younger women still enjoying their pregnancies, caring for their little ones and in the thick of all things baby. And I realize with mixed emotions that those things are getting further and further away for me. As I sit and try to rock my three year old with his legs hanging over the chair I cling to those baby moments that peak through still now and again.
But, there is no doubt…I am entering the stage of the older woman and with that comes a new responsibility. And I ponder as I think about my role as an older woman. The scriptures say I am to teach the younger woman to love their children. This makes me consider…what does it mean to love our children? In pondering this I am so convicted within. So this post is for me as well.
What is loving our children? For many of us the definition could encompass many different things.
- Is loving my children having natural childbirth instead of getting an epidural?
- Is loving my children breastfeeding over bottle-feeding?
- Is loving my children scheduling vs. demand feeding?
- Is loving my children feeding them all organic and fresh baked bread everyday, or maybe it grain free- or is it heating up a frozen pizza at the end of the day?
- Is loving my children homeschooling them or letting them go to school?
- Is loving my children living on a farm and having animals and chores or being in the city with a small plot for my child to play?
- Is loving my children allowing them to watch netflix and have a cell phone or is loving my children banning them from the internet?
- Is loving my children making sure they are in all sorts of extra curricular activities or fostering creativity and study at home?
- Is loving my children running in the park with them and playing tirelessly with them or is loving my children caressing their hair and speaking tender words to them while I am on my sickbed.
- Is loving my children having a well ordered clean and tidy home or a well lived in home with messes from loving activity?
Do you see a pattern here? All these things there can be many debates about, many different opinions and feelings on how we should raise our children. But, you know what? We can major on all these things above and make those things our hill to die on…and forget what is really loving our children.
- Loving my children is pointing them to Christ each day
- Loving my children is training them in the ways of the Lord
- Loving my children is leading them in family worship each day
- Loving my children is looking into their eyes, listening to their tiny hearts, holding them and just being there.
- Loving my children is wrestling with the Lord in prayer for them everyday.
- Loving my children is sacrificing my needs for theirs.
- Loving my children is providing for their physical needs as well as their spiritual needs.
- Loving my children is nurturing them, protecting them, giving ourselves for them, guiding them and supporting them.
- Loving my children is displaying 1 Corinthians 13 to them and the fruits of the Spirit.
So do we love our children in these ways by feeding them organic or making them a sugary dessert? Am I doing that by scheduling my baby’s feedings or using more of an attachment parenting approach? Here lies the question? And the answer is, I think we can love our children in all of the above.
I believe the Lord has given us liberty to raise our children, care for our families in these many different ways. Many times we want to put God in a box and create labels and make judgments on how our family has to look if we are true servants of the Most High. But, He guides His people on different paths, directs them sometimes in ways they never thought they would go. When I was training to be a midwife I never would have thought one day I would have a voluntary epidural for my 8th baby. Our life decisions change as we grow and learn to listen to the Lord’s guidance.
So ask yourself today, are you putting expectations on yourself that might be from others rather than the Lord?
As a Titus 2 older woman it is my desire to encourage you in the second biblical list above, rather than the first man-made list. Pray and ask the Lord to direct you in all those practical things from list A that take second place to list B. And He will give each family different dynamics, different practical applications, different lifestyles….And that’s ok.
I pray the Lord will give each of us grace to TRULY love our children!
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:14