Cristie Cerniglia is the type of church member I wish every pastor could shepherd. Teachable, hungry for the Word, but always active in creative ways of living out the truth in her home and community. Fun, but serious about her walk with Christ. I saw some excellent post-wedding reflections she put on social media and asked her if I could share them with my blog readers. Enjoy and be challenged by her thoughts below.
As I reflect on the wedding of my firstborn daughter I can’t help but reminisce about my life, our marriage, parenting, Morgan’s upbringing, what do I know now that I didn’t know then? What would I do differently? How will I parent differently going forward?
First, people always say, “Enjoy your kids when they’re little, it won’t last long.” And, “The days are long but the years are short.” These things are true but impossible to grasp at the time people say them. My experience is that each year goes faster than the one before. My advice…train them relentlessly for the first 5 years and you (and everyone else) will be more likely to enjoy them FOREVER!
Second, I’ve had seasons where I was very intentional in my parenting, and other seasons where I coasted. I guess this is normal. My experience is that the kids will awaken you from a coasting pattern with bad behavior! My advice is to relentlessly think long-term & big picture. The 3-year-old’s selfish tantrum won’t go away on its own, and contrary to popular belief—they won’t “grow out of it”. It simply changes forms. They may not throw themselves into the floor anymore, but a grown adult can pout and punish with the same selfish pride if they aren’t taught a different and better way. I feel a fresh energy to parent intentionally after witnessing the fruit in Morgan and Titus’s life and seeing the beauty of God’s plan in their love story.
Third, our words and example really matter. Our kids have learned from our sin and mistakes as much as our successful moments. We’ve never been super specific about our life BC (before Christ), but we’ve discussed many general principles from those years and testified to the power of God to change people. While the early years were quick, simple correction, these later years are full of loooooooong conversations. Not lectures, not persuasive essays on why you should think the way I think, or believe the way I believe—but dialogue. Many times late at night when I would have been sleeping! But it’s so worth it.
When we know how they are thinking, we can help. My experience is that if you begin thoughtful conversation early and are a good listener, they will talk. And talk. And talk. My advice is to prepare your face so it looks calm and normal regardless of what they say! No freak-outs allowed! Also, ask questions to get to the bottom of things. “Why do you think/feel/believe that?” “What are the long term repercussions of that?” And “How can I help?”
Finally, I tease about keeping my kids little, not letting them grow up or move out, but the truth is this is how it’s supposed to be! We aren’t raising “children”, we are striving to raise ADULTS. Adults who love God and are productive, honest members of society! My experience is our kids want to be given additional privileges and responsibilities as they mature. That is where “real” self esteem comes from, a job well done for God’s glory. My advice is to start off tight with very few choices/responsibilities and gradually open/increase as they show themselves faithful.
This is not a doctrinal treatise on parenting, just a Christian mom thinking out loud with a full heart and new found resolve.