So let me just be real for quick second. Sometimes this stay at home mama just wants to run a thousand miles away and be by herself. Raising four kids has been a stretching process and then some for me!
I always thought that when I became a mom, I would, you know, love being around my kids all the time and I would gently and tenderly serve their every need. I always wanted to be that mom…the one my teammates had…who was seemingly present whenever needed and was always happy to give other kids a ride home.
Did you ever have a friend whose mom you were always like, wow, she’s awesome? Or maybe that was your mom. Either way, that’s the kind of mom I wanted to be, and I thought that because I wanted it, it would happen.
But yeah…not so much.
What I’ve actually realized is that becoming that mom to my kiddos was going to take more than just wishful thinking. It was going to take a self-sacrificing love that would be willing to nurse all night, hardly get enough sleep, and still manage the slow and demanding constantness of toddlerhood all day long. It was going to take the kind of love that would commit to have the laundry done and meals cooked when all I seriously want to do is sleep, read, and work on personal projects.
And I realized that that kind of mom could only happen only with God’s help because, after all, that kind of love originates in God.
If I’ve learned anything as a stay at home mom, it’s that I don’t have everything together and I don’t need to pretend I do. God is my helper, and He will take me from where I am to where I want to be.
If you often feel like your love tank is empty toward your children, then fret not-you are not alone! I believe there are many mamas out there who are suffering unnecessarily from guilt because they feel like they don’t love it as much as they thought they would.
Do you find yourself lacking in motherly love? Maybe you were like me, and thought that parental love would happen naturally. If you find yourself not being the kind of mom you desire to be, don’t worry! Thankfully, we don’t have to stay stuck. Here are four ways I’ve found that have helped me grow in love toward my children, and can help you do the same!
Grow in the revelation of the love of God
The only way we can ever truly grow in love for our kids is by understanding and receiving the love that God already has toward us. The Bible says in 1 John 4:19 that “we love because He first loved us.” In other words, it’s only because God loved us first that true love (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-8) could ever be formed inside of us.
It took me years to really understand this. Because you see, I never really used to focus much of my time on how much God loved me. I used to mainly think about all that He wanted me to be doing, and all that was required of me. What I’ve come to understand is that it’s impossible to change myself. I can’t produce love in myself; I have no ability to do so. But God does. So He sent Jesus to do what the Law could not do…change my very nature. Praise God!
One of the best resources I ever got a hold of about the love of God is called Passion for Jesus. It completely revamped the way I thought about God and the way I thought about myself. It so impacted me that I had to keep putting it down because I kept crying, deeply moved by the truths about God’s love in it.
If you really struggle receiving God’s love, I highly recommend you get a copy and spend several days just taking in the reality of the Father’s love. I also recommend meditating on Romans 5-8 and just thanking God for all He’s done for you. And watch your heart grow!
Spend time connecting
If there’s one main thing I’ve discovered about child raising, it’s this: without good relational connections with your kids, it’s pretty much impossible to get to their hearts. You may be able to do some behavior modification, but you’ll never be able to really reach them and impact them like you want to.
It’s easy, all too easy, to allow the day to day busyness of home management, homework, and meal preparation get the best of your parent-child relationships. But we want to be mamas with vision. Moms who are super influential in our kids’ lives. Moms who leave a legacy for our kids to follow.
Is this what you want? I know it is! I’ve not met a mom yet who wants to be a bad mom with bad parent-child relationships. So let’s do what we need to to connect with our children.
What does this look like? Well, a couple things…
First, the way we treat our kids. We need to remember that our kids have a self-centered nature and don’t even have the capacity to think about others. They only think about themselves, because that’s just how human beings are born. We are their example, so when we deal with them in tenderness and patience, it not only gives them a roadmap for how to deal with others, but it builds their trust in us.
If there’s anyone who’s failed at this over and over again, it’s me. In fact, I think it’s because I’ve struggled with this so much that I put such an emphasis on it. I’ve seen how treating my kids with love impacts how they view me and receive from me. If you want some more insight on this topic, check out this post I wrote about understanding your child’s nature.
Secondly, we connect with our kids by spending time doing the things they love to do with them…and enjoying it (or at least making an effort to, or at least acting like we do).
I’m gonna be honest…this has always been a challenging one for me. And I blame that completely on being an only child for eleven years. 🙂
If your child loves playing outside, then spending 20 minutes of your time playing with him or her. If it’s drawing and painting, sit and do it together. I’m telling you, when I’ve done this with my kids, their hearts are like putty in my hands. And it’s amazing what it’s done for my relationships with them.
Remember whose children they really are
Our kids are not really ours..they’re God’s. They are in our care for a short season of their (and our) lives, and we’ve been given the great(and scary) privilege of training them to face the world on their own.
It’s tempting to view your children as just an extension of your belongings. It’s easy to look at their neediness and constantness and focus on that. But when you remember that everyone belongs to God, including your children, you remember that you really aren’t their owner. This has always helped me because it puts a holy fear in me that makes me remember that I can’t just treat them however I want. I can’t just react to them and relate to them according to the way I feel at the moment.
God is their owner, and I will be accountable to how I treat what belongs to Him. So I lean into Him in prayer and spend time meditating on the Word so I can operate in love!
Cultivate an eternal perspective
Finally, I believe that cultivating an eternal perspective helps you grow in love toward your children. When you take some time to zoom out of your own little world and broaden your scope a bit, you can get a more clear perspective of the bigger picture.
The reality is that we’re not going to walk this earth forever. The little inconveniences of motherhood will pass, and our kids will get older. And I’ve heard time and time again from seasoned mamas that this happens waaaay too fast.
Our kids are only under our care, for the most part, until they’re in their late teens. Then they move on to building their own lives. And at that point, all the little things that used to frustrate us and that we used to want to complain about will just be a memory.
So think about the end from the beginning. You want to be a mom who leaves a legacy for your child or children. Let’s make growing in love toward them a priority, and enjoy the fruit of healthy relationships!
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How to Have a Prayer Life When You’re a Busy Mom
Why Every Mama Needs to Prioritize Prayer
Connect: The #1 Thing a Mom Can Do