Updated: Mar 11, 2020
The gift of a child! As a follower of Jesus, I aim to be the best version of myself that God has called me to be, in every area of my life.
In all that we apply ourselves to, we are always learning how to be better at something. The old saying goes, "there is no handbook in raising a child, you learn as you go." As a new mother, I agree with this saying, only to a certain extent; the lessons which await me are many, and I do plan to learn as I go, but I believe the greatest "handbook" a mother (or father) can use to raise a child, is the Bible. Everything I need to learn and know, is in this book, and it truly showcases the gift of parenting. As a Child Development major, I've studied patterns of child behavior & development cycles that parents ought to consider, in light of what Scripture outlines as godliness. I pray that this writing encourages you as we learn that children mirror us!
In my experience of working in nurseries, preschools and in elementary schools, I have maintained a love for children and the work of child development. Children of all ages require a teacher to guide them to understand important life skills, especially in the early stages of development. A question that comes to mind, that the bible helps us to answer, is: how can we genuinely care for, love, and nurture children?
How can we genuinely care for, love, and nurture children?
If we look at the greatest example of love, through God's word, we see the love of God demonstrated and instructed when Jesus said, in John 13:34, "A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." In this scripture, Jesus uses the highest form of love that the ancient Greeks called "agape" love; agape love, is a selfless, sacrificial kind of love: the love that God has for us. Seeing children through the lens of agape love, may seem like a challenge. This is especially difficult to fathom, if a person has yet to receive the love of our Heavenly Father, through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Do not lose hope in this pursuit! The more you seek to know God, through Jesus Christ, the more you will understand the agape love that Jesus was referring to when He spoke these words to His disciples. The love that we are to show towards children, especially our own children, is "agape" love. As we demonstrate this love throughout a child's life, they will mirror this kind of love in their own interpersonal relationships.
Life with Purpose
As we demonstrate agape love, we ought to consider our speech and actions, toward our children. An infant learns much more than one may imagine, in the first year of development! As we keep in mind that children will mirror us, we need to be mindful of our speech and actions, that we communicate the purpose that God has for each and every child. A scripture that I hold close to my heart - and feel that every child should know - is that God already has plans for their lives: to live a life with purpose!
Psalms 139:13-16, says: "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."
As a parent, we strive for our children to meet goals and expectations that we set for them; letting our children know that they have a God given purpose, should be one of our top priorities! If a parent demonstrates purpose, a child will mirror purpose in their own lives; this is not just a hope, it is a demonstrated and repeatable scientific observation, associated with the "sensorimotor stage," of a child's early development.
From birth to 2 years is considered the sensorimotor period, which is the first of 4 developmental stages in the Piagetian Model. From 18-24 months, children will begin to have what is called "true mental representations," or deferred imitation, which is (in essence) the imitation of a behavior pattern. Knowing that my child is mirroring my husband and I during these important stages of development, helps me to take great interest in living a godly, Christ centered life. I can think of no greater example of imitation, than if our daughter were to reflect the love of our savior, Jesus Christ, by receiving Him as her Lord and Savior. Our children will be our primary disciples, as they live and learn, by what they hear us say, and what they see us do.
Children mirror us, and there's no getting around it! God has engrained this instinct into his creation: to imitate. If a parent is absent, it can be expected that the child will be absent, in more ways than one. But as we raise our children in the ways of the Lord, if we teach our children that the scripture shows us how to love, through agape love, that our lives have a God given purpose and that the greatest one we can imitate is Jesus, we are giving our children a greater chance at truly living life, and we are using the greatest "guide book" to parenting that is available to us: the Bible.
Joy and love,