It's unlikely that you'll ever wonder why I've never been nominated for any "Mother of the Year" awards. Honestly. But I can't help but appreciate the things I've learned from some pretty awful incidents. Some instances weren't necessarily life-threatening, but rather simply horrible examples of poor parenting skills. I hope you're not eating right now. You may want to come back later if you're at all squeamish.
When one of my sons was 2, he had a nasty habit of drinking from the toilet. Time after time, I'd walk down the hallway only to find the bathroom door wide open and see his fat little legs kicking merrily in the air as he slurped away. Despite my screams of horror, he'd always return to the bowl. He didn't think it was gross - flushed or not. He obviously enjoyed it. When he was thirsty, this was a quick, easy way to refresh himself with a cool drink. You'd think that I would've had enough sense to keep that door shut, or even smarter, make sure I had a little sippy-cup easily within his reach. For whatever reason, though, I never put it together that when this kid was thirsty, he was going to get a drink from wherever he could find one.
It's like that with a lot of things when you have children. If there is a need, they're going to fill it: whether it's physical, informational, or relational. Their little shelves waiting to be filled, and they'll stock up with whatever is available. God forbid you have one that seems to naturally gravitate to "wells that are polluted." Kids will sponge up information, no matter where it comes from. Hollywood and television networks are happy to teach them. They fill a need for information. And as children get older, needs also expand into being relationship driven. They need attention. They need affection. They need a set of values and principles. They'll make sure that they get these things; it's simply human nature. I know that if I neglect my job when they're little, and if I don't meet these needs as they grow older, there will always be someone else out there waiting to step in and give them what they think my child needs.
This is a truth that I can't afford to forget or neglect. What do my children need? Am I filling them with truth? It's my job to teach them.
My two older children have already come to me with questions regarding doctrines and philosophies. "Why do we believe what we believe?" they want to know. "The people who we believe are wrong think they're right.
They think we're wrong. So how do we know we're right?" These are good questions. Why do we believe what we believe? Do you know why you believe what you believe? If the issues are important to you, and you want your children to embrace them, let them see your passion for truth. Let them see you praying for knowledge and wisdom. Let them hear you praying that they would be persistent and diligent in finding truth.
Our children need a foundation of truth and security to fight against what is false. We're to be there when they're thirsty, both physically and spiritually. The world and "well meaning" nosey-bodies will eventually try to make themselves available to your children and train them in their own philosophies of life. Many would like for you to believe that we should give up our rights and authority and defer to so-called "parenting experts." Baloney! I know too many families that have been splintered, separated, and undone even by Christians who have swooped in to "help."
There is comfort in knowing that God is ultimately in charge and knows the number of my children's days and can work despite our inadequacies. The responsibility is a heavy yet glorious one. My prayer is that my children will not grow up and still long to drink from the toilet, but rather have built up habits of feasting on the Living Word. And as always, I know they will learn this by the examples I set. Our teaching hours are so precious. May we use our time wisely while our little ones are still with us.
*This article published October 19, 2009.
Jenefer Igarashi lives in East TN with her husband, Geoff the Great; together they homeschool their six kids on a little farm. She can be contacted by email, Jeneferig@gmail.com, or thru her blog, http://www.Jeneralities.com.