Some Practical Tips To Prepare For Life With Children
• Pray, think, read and study about how you want to raise your children and about the principles you want to teach them. Ask mothers and fathers how they do it, listen carefully when they share their experience and ask God how He has meant us to raise our children. Most importantly, get to know Him and His way of fathering, because this is the pattern and guideline for us all! It might be a long time before you will have children but it is better to start thinking and preparing early as you might find it hard to have all the guidelines ready at once when your first child is born.
• I once read that in a home with small children, stoves should have security bars or the panhandles should always point away from where a child can reach them. I decided to start training myself to always point the panhandles away from me, because I won’t be able to get that habit into my head within a few days when my child starts to walk around!
• When furnishing your future home or preparing for it, think about an environment which is safe for children. It does not all have to be fluffy game zone, absolutely accident-proof, as you can teach your children what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do. However, I find it much easier knowing that my one-year-old can crawl around in certain rooms without me always having to watch her.
• Things causing problems might be: pot plants, sharp edges, open fire, books or anything from paper your child should not tear, stairs, small items within reach of a small child, glass tables, anything where a small child can fall into, etc. Just go through the rooms and think of a one- year-old making his first steps, holding on to everything and finding everything! Things we appreciate a lot are: living area without stairs, old fashioned cupboards with drawers that are hard to open (impossible for a small child), closed storage place where we keep books, papers, small items out of the reach of children, some empty shelves or baskets on ground level with toys for the children to play with, etc.
• Think about your bedroom situation before choosing your furniture or future home (if you can choose). While breastfeeding my baby or small child, I find it the most comfortable to have the baby next to me in bed, so I don’t have to get up at night, getting my baby from another room or another bed. Apart from that, I simply believe a baby is the happiest next to his/her mother and is just too small to sleep alone. Some people manage with a baby in their double bed, but this might only work for one child and you will probably need a wall on at least one side of the bed. We have a baby bed attached to our bed and will soon get a second attachment for our second child. Some people take a few beds and build one huge family bed out of it; some simply put some mattresses on the floor. I really enjoy having enough space for everyone in our bed and I would advise everyone to think about it before you get your beds.
• Get used to those eating habits you want to teach your children. This is quite a challenging task for me and I think it is ok if children don’t have everything Mum and Daddy have but very often people like their mother’s food the most so you as a mother have a great opportunity to train your children to eat healthy things. The easiest is if you just cook and eat what you want your children to eat. It is mainly a matter of habit how much sugar you need or want, if you prefer whole grain products or the white ones and if you like salads and vegetables or not. Our mother set up the rule that each of us had to eat a certain amount of veggies or salad (it was only a must when we did not want to eat it) and with time my siblings and I all became very fond of salad and we all feel salad is a vital part of the main meal. Children have certain favorites, as we all do, but first children only relate to what they see. A few months ago our daughter would not have “ordered” any specific food when eating. Now she does as she has learned what there is to eat and chooses what she likes the most for that moment. So you can have a big influence on what your children eat, also by always having those things around you want your children to eat. For practical reasons we always leave some fruits on the table and as Ellie sees them she wants to eat fruits with almost every meal.
I am sure there are many more things and ideas to prepare and think of and God can give you so much wisdom in it, let’s just ask Him for it! Most importantly, be prepared with your character.
Several times I have heard that children will act more according to your actions than according to your words. They are just going to imitate you. I never knew how true this is until I experienced it myself with my one-year-old girl Ellie. All of a sudden, she started “talking on the phone”, holding any item between her chest and her chin, talking with a louder voice and in short “sentences” with pauses (all in her baby language, of course), laughing from time to time … I was amazed to see a copy of my phone behavior which I have not known like this before.
This skill seems really logical and well-designed by our Father in heaven as a small child has to fill his/her mind with all patterns of how life works. Not only in this sense, our children are real miracles made by our great Master Creator. He has designed us this way so that our children can benefit from all the blessings in our lives, the good character traits and everything we have learned. Unfortunately, satan has taken advantage of this when through the fall of mankind, this has also become a source of curse.
“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:4-‐6
The second half of this passage shows us the spiritual law of inheriting non-material things. Many of us might know that the parents’ lifestyle, actions and world views have great influence on the lifestyle, actions and world views of their children. They are just learning and imitating what they see. Smoking parents are more likely to have smoking children than non-smoking parents. It is incredible in how many things you think, speak or act, as your parents or family members have great influence on you.
But I believe there is a second factor, namely your spiritual heritage. In the verse above it says that the children will “inherit” the iniquity of the fathers to the fourth generations and the blessings for the fathers’ godly behavior to thousands of generations. I would like to share my point of view on this and I am open for any different or new ideas you might have. I believe this curse of inheriting iniquity works in twoways. First, it is like a curse for children when they are growing up under the influence of their parents’ ungodly behavior: sexual sin resulting in many children without fathers, children whose parents are drug addicts, children suffering from ungodly rage and anger or from being beaten, children who are not taken care of, are not taught the ways of the Lord, etc.
Secondly, I believe you can inherit character traits or spiritual curses from your parents which are on them because of ungodly behavior. Statistics say that people who were beaten in their childhood are more likely to beat their children in an ungodly way to get rid of their aggression, than people who were not beaten inappropriately. Foster parents can experience unusual expressions of ungodly behavior in their foster children which they have probably not seen and imitated but inherited.
Whether we have inherited such things or just imitated them, I believe we have to get rid of them, the sooner the better. When talking about preparing for a life with our husbands and children, it is even more important as we don’t want our husbands to suffer from these things or our children to inherit or imitate ungodly things.
Sometimes we act or react in a certain way because we have been wounded and there is deep pain and unhealed areas inside us. For example, a father might have experienced a lot of rejection in life and has never fully experienced the healing of God’s love and acceptance. This person might create all kinds of habits in order to get attention and confirmation and will probably have a hard time relating godly love and acceptance disconnected to the achievement of anything to his children. He might have high expectations on his children, he might be connecting acceptance to good grades or good deeds, he might not be able to confirm his children in their God-given identity and calling and he might not be able to install in them a sound knowledge of the unfailing, unconditional love of God.
However, a fatherless son who has experienced God’s touch and healing in this area where he has been left alone and wounded can become a father and an example to many. This is one thing I love so much about God: He loves to take the most disadvantaged, seemingly unable person and make a great servant and testimony out of him/her.
So we don’t want our children to inherit our ungodly behavior or things we have been suffering from because of our parents’ ungodly behavior. Therefore let’s go to God for healing and restoration before more damage is done!
This includes revelation from God where we need His healing, it can include forgiveness of the sins of our fathers and of anyone who has hurt us, it can mean correction of our wrong attitude or behavior and asking those for forgiveness we have hurt because of our ungodly behavior. In all things, let us go to the Father, ask Him to shine His light on our dark areas and show us any connection or root cause to which we might be blind. Let us ask Him to show us the next steps to do and to heal and renew us. In all that, the Holy Spirit is our helper to show us any hidden area, wound or sin.
Preparing for a life with our husband and children also means working on our character and being changed into His image, as many of you have already stated. Right now I sense that the most important thing for me is to fight the battle for my character. I sense that how I react in certain situations is as important as the task of someone who has been ordained by God to fast and pray for a specific concern. If this person does not complete the task, something will be lost. If I don’t complete the task of gaining a sanctified character, there will be a problem too. God is faithful to lead us along the way and show us new things and matters with which to deal as we follow Him but the sooner you start the better.
For example, if you start dealing with self-pity in situations when you can’t go on anymore but you just have to, training to keep your eyes fixed on God and on His ability through Christ in us instead of allowing all kinds of ungodly attitudes to rise up, you will start better off when your children are born. This is one of the areas where God has shown me that I need change and I can assure you that I probably don’t see all of its importance. I can simply tell you that Ellie immediately senses my inner tornados and reacts right away. When my world is ok, she is happy and content. When I feel bad because of my circumstances or show a bad reaction to a hard situation, or when my husband and I have an argument, she starts wailing and crying, demanding attention and comfort.
So in concluding, I want to encourage us all to strive for healing and restoration of our wounds, renewal and correction of our bad character traits because our influence might be far greater than what we could imagine.