You've heard the saying, "You can't give advice about parenting unless you have children."
Although I was not guilty of that one, I do have a confession to make.
Here it goes.
I was one of these mamas...
A younger wife and mother who looked down upon older, wiser moms because they weren't as protective of their children as I thought they should be. My goodness, she lets her teen listen to Christian rap? Oh, good grief, I can't believe she is letting her daughter go away to college! Gasp, her daughter is wearing makeup at 12!
I hear the tones of prideful judgement all over the internet, in other moms' conversations and within the Christian community as a whole. I am the first to admit that I was blasting false accusations in my mind towards these older women. Like I know better?
Come on, Susie.
I am a mother hen.
These young whipper snapper kids need more nurturing, extra protection and attention than older children. It's only natural for a mother to flutter about like a mother hen, protecting her little chicks because they are so vulnerable and helpless in this crazy world.
But, I also have an older teen.
We, moms with older children get it. We get it because we've been there. We chased off the bully chickens, we pulled our little fluffballs under our wing to protect them from bad influences, sheltering them and helping them keep their thoughts pure and innocent.
I have an 18 year old all the way down to a five year old. I'm still a mother hen to my five year old. But, to my oldest daughter, I have transitioned. I really cannot keep her under my wing any longer. She isn't a fluffy, cute little chick anymore, but a beautiful young lady, learning how to spread her wings.
Does she still need some protection? Of course! But, instead of shuffling her under my wing, I share with her my own experiences, good and bad. I share with her my concerns, my love for her and the biblical wisdom I have gained through the years. She is really spreading her wings, but if I feel she might be in danger of spreading them too far, I call her back in, a little closer, but not too close. Sometimes, I let her learn the hard way. Just like a mama hen does.
She has seen the world at her job. She hears it in their music, their speech, their actions and sometimes their thoughts. She has been tempted and at times she fails, like we all do, but she knows God's truth. She knows. And He draws her back in.
I used to struggle with letting her listen to certain Christian music. I used to struggle with her going to college. I used to struggle with how she dressed, was it feminine enough? I never had to worry about modesty with her, but others would see her attire as not modest enough. I never told her about some of the things I have heard for fear that she would believe she could never measure up to these standards that others have placed.
But, these were not my standards nor my husband's. I was listening to the legalistic side of Christianity and it really made my life more difficult than what God intended it to be. I see young mothers sharing their strong opinions about how ladies shouldn't go to college, what kind of music is appropriate, what they should wear, etc. And their daughters haven't reached the age of three or four. Those might be excellent ideas for your children when they get older. Only you know what is best for them.
But every family is different. Although my ambitious 18 year old is all about playing basketball at a junior college and learning to share her faith on a missions trip and with others, we do feel that at this time in her life, going away to college is not a good idea for her. She will commute, but who knows what God has in store for her in the future?
She knows the importance of being a keeper of the home, yet until she gets married, she will more than likely have a job after college. She was the rambunctious little chick that I had to keep chasing after. Sometimes I had to ruffle my feathers as a warning to others to stay clear of this little explorer as she discovered new things. Sometimes I lost her and she got herself in a bind, learning the hard way.
My younger daughter told me she wanted to stay on the farm forever and eventually take care of us when we are older(I immediately gave her a contract to sign...just kidding). She is content with staying close to me, not much of an explorer, but loves to make her mama happy by not wearing me out! It will be interesting to see where God has her in the next few years. She is different than my oldest daughter and not quite as ambitious, but loves to dream about farm-related ideas and adventures. I see myself in both of them. Yet, God made them so different and gave them different desires.
We cannot say 'never' to certain ideas that are preferences. I feel as if that is underestimating God's will. It's saying that we are in control, not God.
So, where am I getting at with all of this? Moms with younger children, if you stay focused on your family, there won't be temptation to be a little too judgmental like I was. Remember, you are at a different stage in life with your kids.
You are still the protective mother hen who puffs at any threats or injustice done to your child. That is perfectly normal. Some of us get a little more puffy than others....ahem. But, we have been where you have been.
Don't worry about the future. It's good to have an idea or preference for your kids, but be open to God changing those ideas if it is His will. Trust that God will show you when the time comes. Because, right now, I can almost guarantee your thoughts on certain issues will change within the next few years.
Let's jump on that parenting roller coaster and enjoy the ride!