The Mission of Motherhood ~ Chapter 7: Strong Friend

Mission of Motherhood

Welcome back to my daughter’s book study post on chapter 7 of “The  Mission of Motherhood.” by Sally Clarkston. 🙂

“How am I supposed to do it, Dan?

I gave my husband a pleading look as I stood near the stove top, browning yet another skillet of ground beef for the freezer meals I was preparing.

Please tell me how I can find joy in my work today!

I had been gazing dismally at the hours of the day that stretched out before me that would involve large amounts of cooking, mountains of laundry, grocery shopping, giving piano lessons to 3 children and other menial tasks. I just wanted to go back to bed.

It would be different if the work I was doing was actually accomplishing something, I went on. But every single thing on my ”to-do” list today is something that I’m going to have to do again. I will wash all of these same clothes next weekend. These meals that I’m making will be consumed and I will have to cook more of them. I will drive to the same grocery store and push the same cart and buy the same groceries again and again. My work is not like creating a beautiful quilt or an orchestral symphony – something that has a finite ending and that can be admired and appreciated. It never ends!

He looked at me for a minute and smiled.

The children are your quilt!

The work that you are doing with them will last much longer than any old quilt. You are teaching them things that they can pass on to their children and their children beyond. A quilt can’t do that!

I let his words sink in during the long hours of the day.

As I worked my way through the day, I made an extra effort to smile at the children when our paths crossed. We had a few tasks to do together, such as folding the laundry, but for most of the day, they were thoroughly engrossed in something in our landing upstairs, out of my view. When I returned from grocery shopping in the late afternoon, they were beside themselves with excitement to show me the “houses” they had made.

I really had no idea what they had been up to all day, but as I rounded the corner of the foyer and looked up, I got the idea real quick.

Whatever it was, it was going to be an ENORMOUS mess!

I had a split second to make a decision.

Would I be a friend and share in my children’s excitement? Or would I trample on it?

Wow! You sure worked hard on your houses! I can’t wait to see inside them!

The various houses boasted different amenities – a root cellar, a baby’s nursery, a nice sitting room, roomy bookshelves. Many homes had their own sources of light (from a nightlight or flashlight) and most of them had a cozy bed.

But every single little “house” had one thing in common – a smiling, excited face inviting me in for a visit. Each child was proud of the hard work they put into “building” their houses and they were so pleased that I took the time to admire them (even Emma!)

Later on that evening, after the mess town had been cleaned up and put away (by the children), I thought back to my own childhood and all the forts and houses my siblings and I built. I know how stressed out I would have been if my mom had constantly sighed and griped about the messes we were making or if she was resentful about our child-likeness and messy creativity.

Even though taking a few minutes to admire my children’s blanket houses seemed insignificant to my adult sensibilities, I could tell that it really made each of my children feel loved. What a tiny thing!

But the tiny things add up, and over the years, our friendship will be the fruit of the time that we’ve invested in each other.

In Chapter 7 of The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for EternitySally Clarkson discusses five relationship principles that she has found to be vital in forming close bonds with her children. She says:

As a mother, I have the ability to provide the love, acceptance and attention my children need to grow up secure and able to develop mature relationships. I also have the opportunity to model mature love, commitment, forgiveness, accountability, grace and encouragement for my children. The home is an ideal environment in which children can experience the growth of a mature relationship where give-and-take are learned in the context of real life. And this ideally includes an understanding of the true power of God’s love. (p. 124)

{I have shared my thoughts on 4 of the 5 principles in previous posts, so I will share those links below, along with a quote from each section of the book.}

Relationship Principle #1: Time and Availability

“It’s important to realize that spending time with kids means so much more than just getting the parenting job done. Sometimes it’s easy for busy parents to forget this. We become so focused on training our children, correcting them, teaching them responsibility, and providing them with enriching activities that we forget how important it is just to be around them.

Helping our children build godly character is indeed essential and requires years of diligence. [However], people grow close not through monitoring one another’s behavior but by working together, playing together, talking together, celebrating together, weeping together.

Relationships develop when people are there for each other – and that’s as true for parents and children as it is for anyone else.” (p. 126)

My post: Individual Time with our Children

Relationship Principle #2: Acceptance and Unconditional Love

“In building meaningful relationships with my children, I must learn to accept unconditionally the person God made each of them to be – even with personality traits that differ from mine or that make me uncomfortable. I need to accept the “warts” and irritating characteristics that may ever change. I have to love my children with a mature commitment that reaches past my feelings for them, which can change from circumstance to circumstance.

It is this basic acceptance tha provides children with the opportunity to mature.” (p. 128-9)

My post: Advocate or Adversary?

Relationship Principle #3: Affirmation and Encouragement

“Encouragement gives all of us the impetus to keep going, to keep trying to live up to our ideals. As we accept and encourage our children, we will teach them to be encouraging in their own relationships. Children who are constantly criticized will tend to be negative and critical in their relationships with others. When children feel appreciated and encouraged, they become encouragers themselves, sources of life and hope in an often discouraging world.” (p. 133)

My post: The Gift of Encouraging Words

Relationship Principle #4: Grace

“All of us are sinful and will blow our own standards and God’s again and again and again. Because of this sinful nature, we also have a sense of our own inadequacy – and an intense need to be loved and forgiven and trusted despite it all. This kind of unmerited favor is available to all of us from our heavenly Father. But children also desperately need this from their parents.

Obviously it’s important to hold our children to high standards. They need structure and discipline in their lives. But they also need grace for their failures, just as you and I need grace. If we are consistent in guiding our children in the right direction, and extend grace to them to be immature on the way to maturity, then we will have the best chance of maintaining both our standards and a close relationship with our children. (p. 134)

Relationship Principle #5: Relationship Training

“We need to consciously train [our children] in the skills and attitudes that will enable them to sustain positive relationships.

A person can only experience true intimacy when his heart has been deepened and exercised in real love and commitment. Consequently, an important part of deeply loving our children is training them to deeply love themselves and others. We train them by helping them to confront their own sin and selfishness and to replace these attitudes with patient and generous love. This provides them with something to give in a meaningful relationship and seals their ability to be the best they can be.” (p. 135)

My (guest mentor’s) post: Raising Children Who Serve

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now it’s your turn!

Would you care to share one way in which you intentionally invested in your relationship with one of your children this past week? As always, you are also welcome to share a favorite quote or your answer to one of the study questions from this week’s chapter, too. :)

Thank you for being here today! We will continue our study next Monday, December 9th, with Chapter 8: Gardener of Souls.

To view all posts in this book study, click HERE.

I Would Love To Hear Your Comments

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