by Carla Slayden

My husband and I have been blessed with four children, and are now enjoying being Grandma and Papa to 12 grandchildren. They range in age from 15 years to three months. As I reflect on my days of raising children, there are a few adjustments I would make.

I would pray more and worry less. Mothers of little ones, I know you are thinking, “Who has time to pray?” In the midst of feedings, diapers, toddlers, school, homework, sports … time is a precious commodity. As one who has been there, I encourage you to make time. Your prayer closet may be a floor full of toys, a rocking chair, or the front seat of your car waiting for ball practice or piano lessons to be finished, but somewhere, sometime each day talk to your heavenly Father. Bring Him your fears, joys, burdens, and needs. Pray for those precious babies you are raising. Pray your husband and you will be godly parents. Pray your children will come to Jesus and love and live for Him! Bring your requests with thanksgiving and receive God’s peace that surpasses understanding.

I would also play more and dust less. Keep in mind, this is coming from a Type A, borderline OCD neat freak. I realize cleaning, laundry, and a million other things need to be done. As I look back, however, I regret many times I thought everything in its place trumped reading a story, building a pillow fort, creating a Lego masterpiece, or listening to a detailed description my childrens’ day in 3rd, 6th, or 12th grade. Enjoy these days … they fly by. The day you drop them off at college will come all too soon. The house will stay clean, and quiet … very, very quiet.

I would seek more guidance from the Bible, not the advice of others. I know we need good, Biblical counsel from wise people in our lives. It is a blessing. But in this age of Pinterest, Instagram, and a host of other resources, let’s not forget God’s Word is the ultimate guide for raising children. I used to worry about trying to follow all the advice I was given. I now know that was just a ticket for a long guilt trip. And now we have social media to give us impossible standards to live up to! Personally, I hope my grandchildren know more about the baby in the manger than the elf on the shelf. Smile, nod, filter, and do what you have prayerfully decided is best for your children. A special shout out to those raising kiddos in ministry on this one. There is never a shortage of well-meaning church members to tell us what our children should be like!

Lastly, I would take greater advantage of teachable moments. Sometimes, in the craziness of life, we neglect those Deuteronomy 6 opportunities that draw our children’s hearts and minds to the ways of God, His greatness, His blessings, His answered prayers, and faithful promises. Be a mom who is in love with the Lord. We have not been given just physical bodies to raise, we have been entrusted with souls to guide. And, as hard as this is to imagine, God loves those babies even more than we do!

My prayer is with God’s help we raise children who have a deep relationship with Jesus Christ who walk with him through whatever life brings, and never stray from the protection and provision of their great shepherd.