Many moons ago, I sat in Miss Betty’s den for one of our many visits. I was homeschooled. She was retired. We were neighbors. It was a nice set up – at least for me!
During one of our talks, she made a comment which has stuck with me to this day. She said, “Heather, I believe children who know they are loved can get through just about anything.” Her words intrigued me so I started thinking about them in more depth. As I considered scenarios, I came to agree with her. Children who are secure and confident in the love of their parents or caretakers can come out on top of some of the most trying situations.
Children appear to be so fragile in their tiny bodies and limited understanding, but they pick up on more than we realize and they can be amazingly resilient when they are rooted deeply in the love of their families.
This concept makes me happy for those children born to loving families; yet, it burdens my heart for those precious little ones who are not appreciated, not acknowledged, and not hugged nearly enough.
Are You Already a Parent?
A few years back, Eric made a profound statement that stayed with me much like Miss Betty’s comment from twenty years ago. He said (roughly quoted), “Just because you do not have children yet does not mean you never will; and, if your children are coming, then, in a sense, you are already a mother. Make decisions which would benefit them even before they come.” (Mind blown.) No, there is no physical evidence that God will give us children, but should we not put feet to our faith and live our lives as though we are preparing for God’s blessings?
So, I say the same to anyone reading this and urge this our clients as well. Even though you are in the pre-engaged season of your life, start living as if you are about to be a parent.
If you knew you were going to have a baby in nine months, what would you change? Your eating habits? Your entertainment? How you spend your money? Would you clean up your language or think twice before telling that joke? Would you feel a greater need to attend church or spend more time studying the Bible?
Are You Already Preparing to be a Loving Parent?
Going back to Miss Betty’s statement… if well-loved children can get through just about anything and I should be considering myself a parent already, what is my plan for raising my future cubs to feel securely rooted in our love?
This is an overwhelming question to answer and I have a lot more prayer, research, and mommy interviewing to do before I feel settled. Much learning will likely come during on-the-job training; however, thinking, journaling, praying, reading, and discussing the type of parent I want to be now will at least give me a solid direction in which to head. Will I change my direction when the babies come? Likely. But, at least I will have paddles and a compass when I jump in the boat.
Marriage brings surprises, but that does not negate a couple’s need to prepare for it. Parenthood will surely bring chaos but the more we know going in, the more prepared we will be to deal with problems as they come. I am thankful for the ladies who give me a front row seat to their parenting successes and failures. I know I have a more realistic understanding of mommyhood than I did five years ago.
At this stage in your relationship, how can you start preparing for the task of raising your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord? What can you do now that will give you a leg up once that sweet, directionless child is asleep in your arms? You will learn along the way and even change your philosophies over the years, but you can begin your journey with a firm Scriptural foundation and knowledge base.
Adoption or Fostering?
Are you also burdened by the thought of young children who do not have the benefit of a strong, loving home life? It is not too early to start discussing the idea of fostering and adopting with your sweetheart. If you are considering this person as a life-partner candidate, it is important to know his or her thoughts on a variety of different parenting scenarios including education, discipline, family involvement, use of time, spiritual teachings, expectations of chores, as well as his or her thoughts on foster care and adoption.
Uncover these stones now. And I cannot stress this enough – be honest. It is easy to make an idea sound okay in your mind simply because it seems so far down the road (and you are busy being happy in your relationship), but your sweetie will feel betrayed and lied to if you go back on your word years later.
“But, you said you were open to adoption.” “Oh, you were serious about that? I thought we were just talking. Maybe it sounded okay back then, but it does not fit into our lives right now.”
These post-marriage conversations happen and they can be devastating when they do. If you do not know how you feel about adoption, fostering, or any other topic at hand, say that you do not know; but, also be willing to talk it through, pray about it, and seriously consider it. I can handle Eric’s responses far better when I know he has taken the time and effort to ponder them before coming to a conclusion.
Husbands and wives, at least those who thrive in their marriages, are teammates – and, teammates strive after the same goals. They take on difficult tasks which make the team stronger. They do not always agree, but they find common ground and do not let their differences distract them from their ultimate objectives.
When couples become parents, it is never more crucial that they operate as teammates. It is a joint effort to raise those sweet munchkins to adulthood, and being on opposing sides is not only frustrating and connection-shattering for the parents, but it creates a shaky and insecure environment for the children. In the moment, three-year-old Johnny may like his daddy giving him cookies after his mommy said No, but what Johnny really wants for the long-term is to know that his parents are a united force who will protect and nurture him.
The saying goes, the best thing a dad can do for his children is love their mother, and I believe it is almost true. The best thing a dad can do for his children is let them see Him serve God in word and deed, and in doing so he will naturally love their mother.
Have you seen your boyfriend or girlfriend in many different situations? If so, you have probably noticed positive and negative parenting traits (e.g., loving, good teacher, impatient, unorganized, etc.). If the negatives or frustrations outweigh the positives, do not ignore it. Maturity can come over time, but a poor character seldom changes.
When choosing a mate, you are putting your stamp of approval on this person as a parent to your future children. Remember, just because your babies are not here yet does not mean they are not coming. Is choosing this man or woman as your spouse what you would do if you knew you were going to have a baby in nine months? Are you excited to consider what he or she will teach your future children? Are you terrified by that thought?
Can You Answer with a Resounding “Yes!”?
“Heather, I believe children who know they are loved can get through just about anything.”
Are you preparing now to create a home that will foster a deep sense of security for any children God entrusts to you?
Is the person you are dating someone you believe would help build this loving home?
Please do not get married until you can answer this question with a resounding YES! A good teammate – life mate – is worth the wait; and, one of the most loving decisions you can make for your future children is picking a spouse who will love and cherish them as much as you will.
If you knew you were going to have a baby in nine months, what would you change?