Mentor Mom Panel Reflections

Below are additional questions and follow up on unanswered questions from the Mentor Mom Panel Session. So much wisdom here, we recommend reading through them all!

If you could go back and tell your younger self a piece of advice to use during “the little years,” what would that be?

These years will fly by. I know it doesn’t seem like it–sometimes the days seem long. Sometimes you feel like you aren’t getting anything done. But soak up every minute of joy and mess. – Dede

Write things down – everyday things, funny stuff your kids say, things that were hard, things that brought joy. There’s a lot of fun stuff that I’ve forgotten. – Joy

Realize that this is the best place I could be (at home) during these formative years and stop feeling like I was missing out on something “bigger & better.” – Mary Beth

I’d tell myself to just relax and enjoy each stage, be in the moment and not worry about the house, dishes, whether they still suck their thumb, aren’t potty trained yet, wet the bed, or take a bottle… They’re only little once and life won’t be this way forever! (it may just seem like it right now) 😉 Believe me, one day you may even miss it! – Ann

What was your favorite part of the younger years? 

Believe it or not, I miss hearing “mom” a million times a day. I loved the hugs, reading books, the fun of playing, exploring, and looking at life through the eyes of a child. – Dede

I loved to see the learning process – the natural curiosity that little ones have, the pleasure they have in discovery, the joy they take in little things like sticks & mud & bugs. As they got a little older it was fun to see how imaginative their play could be – creating little worlds with their toys where they developed characters, dialogues & plotlines. Kids are incessant & insatiable learners! – Joy

The innocence and adventures of my littles. – Mary Beth

I think one of my favorite parts was just having everyone at home in one place! Trust me, as they grow and become more involved in activities, more time is spent on the road and away from home. My favorite was probably all the snuggles, hugs and kisses when the kids were little. You definitely don’t get as many once they’re grown (tear). – Ann

What’s some advice or something to keep in mind for the next childhood parenting stage (the grade school years)? 

Homework should not dictate your life. And your child won’t die if they don’t play every sport. – Dede

These are wonderful years where as parents you have a lot of influence on your child’s character and spiritual development. Talk to them a lot about what is happening in their life and at school, address character flaws you see, and pray with them every day. Be committed to your church, and help your kids engage with other trusted adults who can speak truth to them. – Joy

Remind yourself that you are your child’s best example, be in tune with their development and cheer them on! – Mary Beth

Ah, the grade school years. At this stage it’s good to have a well thought out routine for after school. I always set the timer for 30 min to give them down time First (rest, play, snack, tv) then once alarm went off, they had one chore to complete, then homework (or vice versa) then dinner at the table together. It’s helpful to know your child’s learning style too, which will help how or where they can do homework to be most successful). – Ann

What’s your favorite verse and/or parenting tool or resource? 

How to pray for your child: Eph 3:14-19 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” – Dede

I really like Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp. I only wish he had written it earlier! – Joy

I read a lot of books on parenting & children because I was amazed at how DIFFERENT each of my boys were. Cynthia Tobias was a great author & speaker that helped me understand different thinking styles.  A favorite verse was “Train up a child in the way he should go & when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Train them up in the way God created them to be, exercising their God-given talents & interests. – Mary Beth

I don’t have ONE favorite verse. For me, daily prayer and time in God’s word before even getting out of bed was key! There are tons of parenting books and videos available but I always looked for people around me who’s kids exhibited something I would want mine to have and asked the parents what advice they would give. – Ann

Follow Up Answers to the unanswered questions from the panel session

Something you wish you could say to your adult children (and their spouses) but don’t?

First of all, I think this is a very intriguing question on multiple levels! After giving your kids instruction & advice on literally everything for 20 years, it’s a little hard to know when to stop. But there comes a day when they are truly independent and your role as a parent shifts. I love when my adult kids ask for my advice, but try not to offer it unsolicited. (Sometimes I fail, but I do try!) Sometimes unsolicited advice from a parent can be perceived as questioning their judgement, when the same words from a trusted friend are not taken personally.

One thing I want to tell my kids right now but don’t, is to be very careful about information out there on social media and on major news outlets. There’s some crazy stuff these days that is getting a lot of attention and being espoused by a lot of groups. And most of their peers are swallowing it without evaluating it critically, often because they don’t know a lot about history or civics, and because a lot of the stuff is deceptively packaged with just enough truth to make it seem legit.

I do have some advice for you while your kids are young (that I feel compelled to give since you asked this question, haha). Take advantage of the window of time you have right now to really speak into your kids’ lives, while they still look to you as their main source of wisdom. Develop a relationship with them that builds openness and trust, so later when they come to you for advice you will have built in so much love that they will know that you are saying even hard things from love. This is built by spending time together, spending time one-on-one with each child, and listen, listen, listen. Secondly, be intentional about building relationships between your kids and other Christian adults, especially as they are approaching their teen years. I helped this happen for my girls as they hit high school because I wanted them to see that having trustworthy mentors is a good thing to seek out, and I knew these older women would point them to Christ. Lastly, as moms we need to steward this time of great influence with our children well, but realize that we are only stewards. Our real hope is in the Lord, our heavenly Father, who knows and loves and will care for our children more than we ever could! – Joy

Any gift giving strategies you used when your kids were little or things you were intentional about around birthdays/Christmas to teach important values? 

I planned way ahead of time for gifts our kids could make—food, crafts, art projects, etc. or personal choices they could buy with a limited budget (from the dollar store). Stationary, calendars, note pads, ornaments, etc. I also made sure the kids followed through with writing thank you notes. This doesn’t just happen—it’s modeled. Buy the thankyou notes and stamps ahead of time and make one of the Christmas vacation days a thankyou card day. Showing gratitude is so important to our wellbeing—it’s good for your kids and it cheers the giver. – Dede

Additional thoughts on when a marriage is maybe in a hard season and needs a little extra work/communication/grace versus when the couple should seek counseling and outside help

Not sure there’s an exact rubric for this. I think if there’s obvious emotional or verbal abuse going on (i.e. there is shouting, name calling, profanity, insults, etc) then counseling would definitely be in order. If it’s not as clear, then it might be good to seek out another objective person or couple who you or you & your spouse can talk to in order to bring clarity about if formal counseling is needed. This might be a pastor or a small group leader or another couple that knows you both. – Joy

Bethany also has a counseling ministry you could initially talk to if there’s any uncertainty 

What do you wish you would have known about menopause when you were in your 30’s? 

I don’t want to paint a bleak picture here—just imagine years to come with no periods! That part is fantastic and you can look forward to it!! But be aware of what hormones do. Right now, you probably have mood swings and maybe headaches because of your hormonal cycle. Menopause messes up the balance. If your mom is living, she is probably affected right now. I have a few close, Godly friends who took a mental health nosedive because of this physical change. God made us to be sensitive creatures, and a change in hormones can knock some systems out of whack. Knowing what to look for is good advice. – Dede 


Published by MOMentsBBC

The MOMents ministry at Bethany Baptist Church in Peoria, IL exists to glorify God by proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and preparing His people by encouraging, equipping, and developing all mothers of preschoolers to realize their potential in Jesus Christ (1 Thes. 2:8).

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