Saturday, February 9, 2013

Q&A Giving Another Mother Advice

You asked:
"How do you give other mothers advice...are you frustrated when they don't take it?"
1-Advice Without Permission
I don't pretend to be relaying this correctly, but I hear a lot of my friends who attend a local church here say it. Essentially, first and foremost, always strive to make sure that your advice was requested first. Rebuke is biblical, but we aren't talking about sin here, we're talking about should they or shouldn't they do such and such with their babies/toddlers/kids, etc. The difference between back sleeping or no back sleeping or homemade babyfood or store bought is important, but isn't necessarily eternally significant. Thus, if someone seems to be struggling or parenting foolishly [to you]...
-pray that God would allow an opportunity to speak into their lives if it's His will
-ask them "would you like some advice on this?" if you sense no, or they say no, wait & keep praying
2-Plank Humbly
No, I'm not suggesting that you lay across two chairs with humility. I'm suggesting you heed this biblical warning...
"Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?" -Matthew 7:3
By nature, I think it's easier to see the flaws in others [and their children] verses ourselves and our own families. We don't necessarily notice that our child is a picky eater, but we sure notice their child doesn't seem to sleep enough. I think we need to walk in humility, and make sure that our advice comes out of a place of love for the other mother, and her child, and not out of a place of policing other people and their failures. Personally, I struggle with this, and have to have God help me not judge them in my heart, as well as keep my mouth shut if I don't have anything to say in love.
3-Sharpen, Refresh, Ignore
To recap, if you have permission to give advice & you feel like it's coming out of a non-judgemental place then share with love. Remembering that we truly do have God-given-individual wisdom, encouragement, talents, and insights to share with others. Us moms, we need each other. I can't begin to explain the value of the wisdom I've learned from other mothers.
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." -Proverbs 27:17
Share what has worked for you to hopefully bring a solution to their dilemma. Tip: I usually follow up all my advice with "it works for me, but it may not for you, every family is different" I think this is a safe disclaimer. More than likely they are already feeling overwhelmed and insecure so don't add to it with your condemning "help". Just because you notice something they do wrong, doesn't mean it's God's timing to share with them. Be spirit-led. Water them as you share.
"...whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." -Proverbs 11:25
When you share, prepare yourself, that it's likely they will completely ignore your advice and continue doing the same old thing [producing the same old results] and continue to complain as if they know no better. This happens. You've probably be on both ends of this too. Some people really just like to complain and don't really want to change. For others, it takes time to "try" your advice. And sometimes your advice just works for your family, but not theirs.
Be okay with that.
Our charge isn't to fix other moms and their problems, our charge is to encourage one another in the faith. If they asked, you answered, and they either don't like it or never used it, you still did the right thing. As far as Jesus is concerned, mission accomplished on your end. You don't have control over what they do with the wisdom you give them. It's up to you if you continue to give them advice or not. All you can do is pray for them and know their complaints hold little weight, as they are unwilling to change or try anything.
4-Just Wait
Pretend with me. You have your first child and they just so happen to sleep, eat, and play with others perfectly. You pat yourself on the back and shake your heads at all the other moms obviously struggling so hard with theirs. "Why don't they just do what I do?" "They must be doing something wrong" "Gosh, my kid never did that". Then, you have a second child...
Suddenly, even with the same parenting style & schedule--- this kid doesn't sleep, eat, and play with others so perfectly. You scratch your head, then find yourself wanting to hid under a bush [the same bush you built out of your own seed sowing of judgmental thoughts]. "What happen?" "I did everything the same" "Maybe this is what happen to so-and-so, that I was so convinced was all her fault." You swallow a big spoonful of humble pie. Not all children are created equal.
If you practiced #3 above, and you sowed refreshment instead of judgement, this scenario will play out much more kindly.
The thing is, no one really knows but Jesus. No matter what it looks like, we can't ever be positive it is or isn't the mother [or fathers fault]. Yes, we can judge a tree by it's fruit, but we aren't there 24 hours a day, and we don't really know all the personal, financial, relational, natural or supernatural elements at play. It's possible it's completely the mothers fault, but it's equally possible it's not. Who are we to judge and decide?
I suggest, you just wait.
At this very moment, you may feel like you're the perfect parent and have it all figured out...thus your calling to "help" all the rest of us. However, I offer this wisdom, just wait. It happens to all of us, in one form or another, something will send us crying to Jesus in repentance for judging others so harshly.
Inevitably, something will come along your way that you never expected that will completely humble you in the area of parenting. It may be their first two year old tantrum at the mall, when they pee on their sibling in the backyard during a play date [personal experience], or when your amazing sleeper suddenly decides they no longer are. The list goes on.
No one has it all figured it. Not even you.
Let's all agree to just help one another in love.
God being our model. Be gentle.
Carry your friends and their children in your heart.
"He tends to his flock like a shepard: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."
-Isaiah 40:10-12

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