I watched as a pair of mockingbirds built a nest near a window of our home. When time came for the female to lay eggs and stay on the nest, the male brought her tasty insects. But other than food, he sang to her. Long into the night, he serenaded her with a wide repertoire of melodies. Later when the three fledglings hatched, the parents provided small tidbits of worms. And during a heavy rain the mother covered the babies with her wings.
Watching, I was reminded of how mothers — and parents — care for their young. As the child grows and develops, needs change. However, some basic requirements remain the same until the child grows into an adult. Are you using this Scripture in Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go …” as a model for your home?
A child needs a mother who will:
• Love him/her unconditionally. Regardless of physical appearance, athletic ability, skills or talents, a child’s mother should not only “show,” but “tell” the child how important they are and that they are loved.
• Listen when he/she speaks. Does your child feel comfortable sharing his feelings? Do you have a special time to talk about his or her day?
• Set a high standard for values and morals in the home. What kind of legacy are you leaving your children? Is it one they will model when they become adults? A friend said, “I have to walk the talk, if I expect my children to do the same. I can’t require more of them, than I do of myself.”
• Share family meals together. A wise mother suggested her daughters learn a new word and its definition for each evening meal. Another suggested her children begin a journal that included important family values. “When I became a mother, I had the responsibility of preparing my children to live in the real world,” she says. “The time of childhood is so brief — there’s so much to teach in such a short period of time.”
• Schedule time daily for one-on-one conversation and interaction with each child. A mother tells of seeking out each child during the course of a day and talking — just talking. Is it any wonder this mother and her children feel close?
• Play games as a family. Yes, some games children want to play seem boring for adults. It’s not the game, but the time spent learning to win or lose, to give and take. And hopefully the child understands a lifetime lesson: That sometime in life you lose — even when you’ve done your best.
• Participate in physical activity. Childhood obesity is on the rise. Are you aware that overweight children develop health problems usually associated with older adults? Mothers can make exercise fun. How? Play a game of basketball. Take a walk. Ride bikes. Walk the dog. Daily exercise improves overall health and fitness. Plus, it’s another way of being together as a family.
• Develop an attitude of compassion for others. Are there elderly family members or neighbors who need help in caring for their yard or home? Would someone enjoy a burger off your backyard grill? One mother sacks up food and has her teenage son make the delivery. “I’m teaching him to share and be concerned about others,” she says.
Mothers who want their children to grow into responsible, caring adults can help this happen by being a positive role model during the formative years.
— Tomlin, is the wife of Matt Tomlin, a Baptist minister in Jackson. She teaches writing for the Christian market and is the co-owner of Boot Camp for Christian Writers. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org