About this series: Many years ago, we asked the matriarchs in our church to share “pearls of wisdom” they learned over the course of their walk with the Lord. We collected their stories in a booklet which we distributed through women’s ministries. My copy of the booklet is now tattered and faded, and many of the women quoted are home with the Lord.
To honor their wisdom and keep their words alive, I am sharing their pearls here before my booklet turns to dust or gets lost in the clutter of daily life.
I hope these words inspire you to share a cup of tea with an older woman in your church and listen to her pearls of wisdom.
Be direct with your children; it makes them feel secure. Whenever we had bad news to share or a crisis, we called a meeting of the Churchill Committee. Jordan was the president, I was the vice president, and I suppose the children had other offices. We also called the Churchill Committee to order when we had decisions to make, for instance about vacations or the like. We would hold discussions and then put it to a vote, and it helped the children feel more a part of decisions.
Praise is very important. Give choices, but not too many. And have realistic expectations. My niece had her grandchildren visiting, and one was balking at the food at dinner. She said, “Alright, darling, ready for your bath?” She gave him a choice of dinner or bedtime. She said, “I do the best I can to put what you like on the table, and you may eat it or go to bed.”
I recently told one of my grandchildren, “Sit down and eat and grow up to be a strong, fine person. Otherwise, you’ll be a weedy little weed that the first wispy wind will blow over.”
Bedtime stories are terribly important; or that time can be used to discuss the day’s events. Husbands need to take a part in it. He’s tired, but so is the mother; it’s such an important time. Incidentally, withholding a bedtime story for one night is a very effective discipline tool. Warn the child that if the talking back, for instance, continues, there will be no story that night. Then stick to it!
One of my daughters used to say, “But Mummy, everybody’s doing it. I would say, “But darling, why do you want to be like everybody? The Lord created you unique, somebody very special, so why on earth do you want to be like everybody?!” -Mary Churchill
I wasn’t the mother I wished I could have been; I remember being impatient. I do remember one day driving and looking up at the sky and saying, “Lord, I know you don’t want me to be bogged down with all this stuff;” and–at least for a while– I just let it go! It felt so good. But don’t let the busy-ness of these years make you forget how fast they’ll be gone. Take time to sit down and do nothing; play games, read with your kids. Stop rushing so and worrying. -Anonymous
I’ve been blessed with a sense of humor, but I like to say, “If you don’t have a sense of humor, you’d better develop one!” That’s important in all aspects of life, but especially with children. How? Develop the ability to let go and get out of yourself. Try to see the humor in a situation, the story in it.
It’s often hard for mothers to “lighten up,” but it’s important. Maybe they learn that by the fourth or fifth child! It was hard for me, even though I majored in early childhood development and taught for years. It seems the first child has the hardest time; it’s hard for parents to sort out what’s most important to be firm about. I remember when our oldest was 16 or so, Peyton Place was new on TV. I tried to talk her out of watching it, and George thought I was being too strict. Finally I gave up, and soon Marcy saw it was just a stupid program and stopped watching it on her own. We must release our children to the Holy Spirit, as we can’t control everything in their lives. I know that’s scary today, with our culture.
The early years are crucial. So many children are in daycare, but one on one is vital then. Someone who’s interested needs to be nearby to hear about their paintings and let the child know that what they’re doing has value. Encouraging imaginative play and play with materials from nature should start very early, and television makes it hard. Camping is wonderful, but walking in the woods is a treat in itself. Situations without many things are great, because children have to invent their own fun. I remember a time in our popup camper, in the rain, with our four girls, sitting on the beds eating tomato soup and playing card games. It was great! But another time, we took some little girls from the neighborhood on a walk in the woods, and they kept saying, “When are we going to get there?” They didn’t realize that we were there! Happiness is a by-product.
There’s no such thing as perfect parents. “Balance” is a key word, and you also need to be flexible, which ties in with what I said about developing a sense of humor. You do the best you can with your knowledge and with God’s direction and support, but you do make mistakes. Prayer has always been so important. You bring your children to God with holes in them, and you hope the holes aren’t gaping wounds, like drugs or premarital sex. Develop your own interests; you need time to get away. Swap with another mom. You put so much into your children, but you are an individual and God expects you to take care of yourself. -Miriam Reed
Also in this series:
- Pearls of Wisdom: Advice from our Mothers
- Pearls of Wisdom: If I could talk with one of my old teachers
- Pearls of Wisdom: on Family
- Pearls of Wisdom: on Marriage
- Pearls of Wisdom: on Adjusting to the Empty Next
- Pearls of Wisdom: on Loving the spouses our children choose
- Pearls of Wisdom: on Loss
- Pearls of Wisdom: on Dreams Lost and Found
- Pearls of Wisdom: on the battle against materialism
- Pearls of Wisdom: on stretching pennies
Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.