Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. –Psalm 127:3 (NIV)
In the Chinese tradition, it is important that a son carries on the family name. Being married to an only son, who was raised in a traditional Chinese family, I have learned to be thankful and contented even when I do not have a son.
The Bible teaches us that godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Tim 6:6). When we are content, we are at peace and happy. We cease striving, burning ourselves out in the pursuit of material comfort, power, and affirmation.
I thank God for my girls. When people praised them for their good behavior, academic achievements, and church involvement or, simply, presence, I am gratefully reminded of God’s gifts entrusted to me—my reward from Him. Whatever good other people may see in my girls, it is to God’s credit and glory alone!
What people do not see, however, is just as important. I am accountable to God for who I am, what I say and do as a mother. To be a good mom, I need God’s grace. So, let me share the lessons I learned and am still learning.
First, I cannot teach what I have not learned. I cannot give what I do not have. When I tell my children veggies are good, do they see me eat and enjoy them? If I want them to read the Bible, I must do the same. If I expect them to care for me when I get old, how did I attend to their grandparents? How I am as a daughter/sister-in-law influences the kind of in-laws they will one day be. As a follower of Jesus, do I deny myself, carry my cross, and obey Him daily? My walk validates my talk.
Most life lessons are caught than taught. Children are observant. Their eyes and ears see and hear beyond my ‘lectures.’ What legacies from my parents do I want to pass onto my children?
My mother was a lifelong prayer warrior. I must admit I sorely need to catch up on this. Mom prayed for family, for and with friends, and relatives regularly. I become who I am today because she prayed for me. Do I live my life dependent on God in prayer? What is my first resource when challenges arise? I taught my children to memorize scriptures as my mom taught me. Many verses I memorized are helpful to me today.
Just as I was trained to be a diligent student, I tutored (not tortured) and helped my kids in their studies. At the ripe time, I passed on the duties to Han, then to Abi. They not only became responsible learners, but also served as good examples to Mimi. Academic achievement comes by God’s grace as they do their part.
Practice makes perfect. Habits are formed early in life. It is good to train children while young. They need firm principles and clear boundaries to guide them. As a parent, I teach them to value respect and proper recognition of authority (e.g. obedience). They realized they are under my authority just as I am subjected to God’s sovereignty. As they continue to grow “in wisdom and stature,” I must eventually let go, so they can take flight and be personally accountable to God.
Parenting is not a one-time, single-step journey. When I fail, I learn from my mistakes. When I err, I apologize to my children. The first time was not easy. Swallowing my pride needs practice, especially at times when I assume to know it all. I know I must treat my ego-tripping moments with a heavy dose of Christ’s humility. My children become teachable only when I am.
What values am I passing on to my children? Do they know the Lord and the work that He has done for me, His acts of grace and mercy? Do I recount the blessings and good deeds that God gave in our lives? Do my children know that the most important thing is to love and obey God? What treasures am I passing on to the next generation? Will this wealth last in eternity?
Lord, thank you for parents who loved me with your love. Help me to nurture my children in your love. May we all walk with you as you lead us in your way. Amen.