I am in an interesting season of life, where I am able to reflect back on all that I did while my kids were growing up. I am also able to see the results of those attempts, both in my life and in the lives of my grown and married children. As I evaluate each season of parenting and running a home, I often ask myself if I would have done anything differently if I’d known then what I know now, and I’m finding that there are some things I would have changed and some things I wouldn’t.
But the thing I know for sure is that my reasons and motives for the choices I made would have been different.
Our motives can make such a difference in how we view our life and our children. They can determine whether or not we have peace in our hearts, whether we view our children as individuals God has temporarily put into our lives to come alongside, or projects we have to quickly mold into an ideal image.
I was a homeschool mom that followed a schedule. I scheduled out my day and I scheduled out my children’s day. My desire was to have a home that was in order and children that were in order. We disciplined our children and taught them about personal discipline. There was sleep training, a daily quiet time in their room (when they were young), regular bedtimes, and daily conversations that attempted to point them to Jesus. Having a disciplined and orderly home was my goal. Teaching my children how to work, serve, and love others was my goal. These were good goals and I worked hard to accomplish them.
So, would I change anything that we did while raising my children? Yes. If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be that none of these things I worked so hard to accomplish were going to guarantee that my children would love God and want to follow Him. My schedules, orderly home, discipline, training, bedtimes, conversations, and teaching were acts of obedience on my part, made home life run a little more smoothly, and may have even glorified God as I worked to be the best mom and homemaker I could be. But it did not guarantee that my children would want these same things.
As I scroll through social media and see post after post talking about mom life and raising children, I sometimes want to help moms see things as clearly as I can now.
All of this is a faith journey.
We have to learn and grow as we take one day at a time and one season at a time. Many truths come in the form of correction as we are in the Word and God exposes heart attitudes and motives that are not completely biblical. That gives us an opportunity to repent or change direction. It can also give us an opportunity to admit to our children when we are wrong or need to make a change in some area.
Much of what I did in my home was a part of my own journey and for my own growth and maturity. It may have influenced my children to some extent, and it may have even been good for them, but the reality is that it did not guarantee that they will adopt the same way of living or believing that they experienced growing up. There was nothing I could do to make them think or believe biblically. I could not make them want to follow Jesus. Yes, I gave them a stable foundation from which to be launched. The rest is something that God has had to do in the secret places of their heart and will be a lifelong series of choices, the responsibility of which will rest with them.
As I watch my adult children make their way in this world, I am struck by how different they are from myself and their father. Yes, there are some similarities, but it’s really amazing to see them become the people they are meant to be, with their own tastes and interests, growing in the way God has meant for them to grow.
Only God can turn “hearts of flesh into hearts of stone” (Ezekiel 36:26) and “open the eyes of their hearts, and let the light of His truth flood in … revealing to them the glorious riches He is preparing as their inheritance” (Ephesians 1:18). He is the one who does all of this. We, as parents, partner with Him and do what we are called to do, to the best of our ability and to glorify Him.
Yes! God does use all of these things in the lives of your children. But when you climb into bed at the end of the day, exhausted from all you have been trying to accomplish, you can rest in the truth that “He will accomplish His purpose…” (Isaiah 46:10) in your life and in the life of your children.
Ultimately, it’s His job, not yours.
at her blog.Gina Smith is a writer, author, and has been married for 32 years to Brian, a college professor and athletic trainer. For 25+ years she and her husband served on a Christian college campus as the on-campus parents, where Brian was a professor and dean of students. They reside right outside of Washington DC and are the parents of two grown children, one daughter-in-law and one son-in-law. Now an empty-nester, Gina has transitioned her ministry from full-time mom and part-time writer, to being a mom who is available to her adult children as much as they need her and writing as much as she can