Large family parenting style is today’s topic for 4 Moms, 35 Kids: How Moms of Many Manage
This weeks topic came from a reader question.
Do you have a particular parenting style you use? Has it changed as you’ve had more children?
I do not believe that there is one right way to parent nor one correct parenting style. There are a lot of books and teachers who say the opposite, but I’m convinced that there is great danger in a method that takes principles from God’s Word and ends with the conclusion that the bibilical way to parent is to have your child on a 3 hour feeding schedule by 6 weeks (or whatever other ‘biblical’ standard that’s not actually found in the Bible). I’ve posted my concerns about this type of dogmatic teaching about parenting in the past (read the discussion in the comments to see what I believe are some of the specific errors).
That said, there are biblical principles that every parent must apply, however, these will look differently with different parents, different children and different circumstances. I will share some of our specific applications of these principles, but they are simply that, our applications of principles we find in God’s Word.
Our parenting style has changed over the years, but the primary reason is that our circumstances have changed.
When we had four children 3 and under I needed to nurse the baby, get 4 small children dressed and bathed (including diaper changes), get myself bathed and dressed, make 5 beds, start laundry, make breakfast, set the table, spoon feed one or two little ones, wipe 4 small faces and 4 sets of hands, take a couple littles to the bathroom, clear the table, wipe down the high chair, brush everyone’s teeth, tackle the inevitable disaster that one (or more) of the little ones created, nurse the baby, take little ones to the bathroom (again) and by then it was time for lunch. My parenting style needed to be very organized in order for me to accomplish all of my responsibilities and, generally speaking, I did not have time to accomplish anything beyond the necessities. I wasn’t as laid back as I am today and we expected more from our children at a younger age.
Today, it’s much easier to head to the park, feed the baby on demand, finger paint or run to the grocery store. I’m not spending all my time surviving, I’m able to do some of the extras that would have been extremely difficult 11 years ago. This allows me to parent more how I prefer to parent and it allows me to be more of a ‘Yes Mom‘
Some basic parenting principles
Children need parents. This is obvious in the design of creation. Biblically, children are only created within the protection of a marriage covenant. It’s obvious in God’s protection of marriage and abhorrence of divorce and it’s obvious throughout Scripture as you see that the commands about raising, training and teaching children are directed to the parents.
Our personal application:
We generally chose to maintain the family unit. We rarely use babysitters to go somewhere without our children. When Mark and I wanted to have a ‘date’ we planned creative ways to spend time alone together. When I needed to go to the OB or run errands I took all the littles with me.
Now that we have children old enough to babysit it’s much easier for Mark and I to spend time alone together. We try to regularly get out for a quick lunch together while the children eat at home. Other than that we don’t leave our kids unless they wish to be left (our big kids sometimes enjoy staying home and reading, playing games or catching up on school work). I still head to the grocery store and the OB with several (or all) children in tow. Running errands with little children is a special blessing to both them and to me.
We’ve chosen to homeschool. We believe that God had a good purpose when He gave the responsibility for educating children to the parents and we believe that the best way to fulfill this responsibility is to educate our children at home by following the patterns that God has given us in His Word.
We focus on our marriage. Yes, we believe that a good marriage is an important part of parenting.
Children need God.
Our personal application:
We pray and beg that God will see fit to save our children and that they will love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.
We focus first on our relationship with God and next on pointing our children to that relationship.
I recently had a conversation with some of our middle children (6-9 years) about their Bible reading and prayer life. It was lovely to hear about the habits that God is forming in their lives, not because it’s something that we require and check up on (although we do require daily Bible reading), but because they recognize that Mark and I really do believe that relationship with God is more important than learning to read (or anything else for that matter) and so it’s become important to them.
Your day to day decisions are vitally important in this regard. It doesn’t matter how often you say that relationship with God is the priority if you don’t demonstrate this by your actions. Are you willing for your child to fall behind in their Bible reading or skip family worship so that they can complete a school assignment or make it to soccer practice on time? This is where our children really see our priorities. This is where the rubber meets the road.
Children need physical care. Food, clothing and shelter are all responsibilities that God gives to parents.
We try to examine every parenting decision in light of God’s Word. We pray that our primary question when we have a newborn who isn’t gaining weight, a 2 year old who won’t sleep or a 10 year old who struggles with unkind speech is what is what does God’s Word say about this.
Children need emotional care, relationship and comfort. In addition to having a clean diaper, being fed and burped and getting adequate sleep, children need relationship and comfort. This seems assumed throughout Scripture as God uses the picture of a mother comforting her child to demonstrate how He cares for Israel. (Is. 66:11-13)
Would you like it if your husband came home from work and said, “Well, you have clean clothes, you’re fed and you’re not sick. You must not need anything from me and besides you need to learn to be less dependent on others for your happiness.” and then proceeded to head out to spend the evening bowling? Yet, this is advocated over and over when it comes to babies. Our little ones need their mommies and daddies. (rant over)
We hold and wear our babies. We show lots of physical love to our babies.
We I co-sleep with our babies. We I nurse our babies at night. We talk to our children. We spend copious amounts of time with our children. We show our children that they are important to us, not because of their accomplishments, but because God created them and they are amazing people. We love being with them. We love getting to know them. We show our children that they are important, not by sacrificing so that they can have the newest, latest, most cool gadget or clothing item but by giving them ourselves and our time.
This is a blessing to the parents as much as it is a blessing for the children. Don’t miss out on time with your kids!
What have I left out? What else do you want to know?
Now, head on over to see what the other moms of many have to say about parenting style.
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