Early January of this year, a new phase of life happened for our family. My oldest child, my daughter, Cecily was married. My husband and I are thankful for the man she married. Parker is a kind-hearted, family-oriented, disciplined, hard-working Christian husband who adores our daughter and treats her with kindness, love, and appreciation. My husband and I could not have hand-picked a better mate for Cecily. When he asked her father and me for permission to ask her to marry him, I told him how much I saw that he and Cecily complemented each other. We were so happy that she found someone who sees her as an equal and appreciates her talents and strengths.
My husband and I shared with Parker that we prayed for him since before Cecily was born, and that we believed God was now answering that prayer.
I remember sitting with Parker at lunch and him asking for our permission to marry Cecily. It didn’t take long for Joe and me to give our blessing. After that, Parker said he expected to be quizzed by us for a long time and he was relieved we didn’t do that. I laughed and told him “that’s what the past couple of years has been about. If you hadn’t passed that quiz, you wouldn’t be sitting here asking us for her hand” .
I tell you that story because recently I was asked by my friend, Kim, what’s the theme of my blog. I casually laughed and said to her ‘Well, that’s really what I’m trying to figure out.’ And that led to a conversation about some different ideas and then she mentioned she would appreciate hearing about how I made it through the dating years with a teenage daughter and how she found a good Christian mate.
I appreciate her request, so I am going to attempt this topic. Of course, this is one of those times that little voice inside me is saying “why would anyone want to hear what you have to say”. I am certainly no expert on parenting even though I’m headed to the end of child rearing. Since this topic was a friend’s request I will go with it. So here goes.
So first thing I say I used to get through those teenage years and help Cecily find a good mate is PRAYER – and lots of it. The best piece of advice I can give to any parent is to pray for your kids and pray with your kids.
I remember when my daughter was very young and I mentioned to my preacher’s wife and a close friend, Mrs. Martha that I prayed daily for my daughter’s future spouse. She nodded in agreement, smiled and said “That’s good and remember to pray for his parents too”. That was eye-opening to me and made complete sense. So from that day I prayed for my children’s future spouse and future in-laws. Because honestly as parents, we need all the prayers we can get. So if you have children, pray for their future spouse and remember to pray for the parents of that person. Hopefully someone is praying for you.
I completely give God the credit for my kids. I know they are who they are because of many, many prayers said by several people on their behalf. I could end this post here, because I do believe prayer is the best piece of advice any parent can be given, but here are some other things I did with my kids and some I still do with my son, Colton.
Before I continue, I want to say I believe this next thing was an important part of why Cecily chose to marry Parker. Cecily dated Parker, but as a family, we got to know him and Parker’s parents got to know Cecily. And like us they were paying attention to see if this person was a good match for their child.
Know your kids friends. This was a piece of advice from my mom. She used it when raising me (which annoyed me plenty then) and I’ve used it with kids (which annoyed them plenty)
Today kids have so many opportunities to know so many people that this can be hard to accomplish. You want to have some serious spy like skills.
Check out their friends on social media and their friends families and their friend friends. You can learn a lot from just a few clicks of a mouse about someone and given the access to the internet, use it to your advantage.
Parents, remember it takes a village, so don’t be afraid to ask your friends, youth minister, teachers, and your other children about who your child is spending time with. Use your community of people to get some insight about the people in your kids lives.
Of course the obvious one, ask your kids about their friends. Find out who your kid eats lunch with at school, or hangs out with in gym class. Pay attention to who they sit with at church. Ask them who they are texting and if you don’t know that person, then ask more questions. Be aware and be invasive when you need to be. Quiz your kid about their friends.
Where do they go to school? Where did you meet them?
Where do they go to church? Where do they live?
Who’s their mom and dad? How old are they?
Now know this may get you some serious eye rolls, exaggerated sighs, and major attitude, but hold the line, stand firm, and keep asking. Over time, Cecily and Colton gave me this information voluntarily. Now, both my kids talk to me regularly about their friends and the type of people they are.
We all want our kids to have friends. We want to know they are liked by others. But we need to be careful and remember the important impact that others can have in their life and teach this to them as well. Teach your children the importance of choosing wisely when it comes to friends.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
1 Corinthians 15:33
Let them know you make mistakes!
Share with them about times when you struggled or were tempted. Let them know that everyone fights a daily battle against temptations of this world.
When you mess up with your child, say “I’m Sorry”. Both my kids heard this quite often. I mean I messed up a lot when parenting them. I reacted too quickly, gave an unrealistic punishment, and sometimes I just missed doing my job. So, I would just tell them, “look I messed up”, and my kids got it. They appreciated that I admitted I was wrong. Sometimes they would agree that they were wrong too and understood why I got upset.
Spend time, have fun, and be a friend
When I say be a friend, I don’t mean to try to be an equal to your kid, or be their buddy, or try to be cool in their eyes. No, what I mean is spend time with your kids, play a game, watch a movie, go for a walk. Enjoy your kids and build a relationship with them . Take time to have fun and bond with them. Remember though being a friend never negates the role as parent. Even though, I’m a friend to my kids, I am always their parent first and they know that.
Be a good example
When my kids were little, I was really aware of what I said and did around them because I knew they would repeat it. As they got older, I got more relaxed about it. But they are still watching me and still need me to help guide them. So I will finish my advice on that idea. Be a good example to your kids, don’t let your guard down about the light you are shining in front of your kids. They will continue to look to you even when they are married and have a home of their own.
‘Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not depart from it’ Proverbs 22:6
Thanks for the request, Kim. Appreciate it.
Any other suggestions, check out my contact page to send me a message.
Thanks for reading, until next time.
Lots of love to you and yours.
Photo Credit – Cassie Watson Photography