At the time of writing this, I have just over 6 months of experience as a mother. So, yeah, I’m a mom to a 6-month-old. So, no, I can’t necessarily give advice on disciplining and training children.
What I can speak to, however, is the fact that the baby stage is not a free pass to avoid the responsibilities of parenthood, if that temptation came knocking. Even little babies are sponges, and many studies show that they are affected long-term by their experiences even at the youngest age.
So, in my 6 months with my baby boy, there are a few things I have learned and that the Holy Spirit has convicted me of that have helped me to be the kind of mother God calls me to be.
- I don’t want Theo to see me on my phone. Deleting social media has helped with the temptation of this. But, I truly believe that 1-year-olds who are obsessed with phones are, in part, obsessed because they see that it is an object that is taking Mom’s and Dad’s attention. Children crave – and need – attention and affection from their parents, and if we are more attentive and affection toward our Instagram feed than to our childrens’ playtime, our children will see it and feel it. Even my 6-month-old will see it and feel it.
So, when I’m with him, I try to put my phone out of sight, but on loud so I can hear calls. I try to respond to texts at set times during the day and have my phone out of sight otherwise. I want to live in the moment with my baby!
2. I actually play with him, taking interest in his toys. Maybe it doesn’t seem like taking interest in a baby’s interests is as important as, say, taking interest in a toddler’s interests. But I truly believe it is. The few times I’ve sat on my couch to respond to emails while Theo plays on the floor, he has looked at me with confusion and sadness. As soon as I come over to play with him, he lights up, like he’s getting time with his favourite person and so happy to have my attention.
I remember feeling this way as a kid, too, but I truly believe these beliefs about what holds our parents’ affection start at the earliest age. Of course, we can’t play with our babies or children 24/7. Of course there are times in which they’re on the floor while we’re cleaning or cooking or spending time in the Word. But we need to be asking the Holy Spirit how He is calling us to spend our time. And I believe He will convict us to get down on the floor with our children if we listen to His call.
3. I pray for him. I remember my mother-in-law telling me about the deep prayer life she had for her children. I knew I wanted – NEEDED – to have the same depth and intimacy with Jesus in my own prayer life for my son. I pray for him, sometimes aloud and sometimes in the quiet of my heart, every night and also throughout the day. Ultimately, this will translate into us praying together and Theo praying. I also know that God hears my prayers and works through them, so this is the absolute greatest way that I could love my precious boy.
4. I read to him. Okay, so he may only be a baby, but we have been reading to our little man since he was born! We read, on average, about 8 books/stories per day – 2 before each nap and 2 before bed. He may not fully understand the words yet, but reading to him fosters early language development and understanding as well as a greater likelihood for interest in reading. That snuggle time reading stories with him is one of my favourite parts of our days!
5. I look to model godly behaviour in and through the Holy Spirit. Again, maybe we don’t think our babies are watching us. But they are. They are picking things up from the way we behave and already imitating us. If marriage was “pulling the covers off the bed to reveal what’s underneath,” having a kid, for me, is stripping the whole bed and flipping the mattress. I see Theo watching me, starting to imitate me. Will he imitate me as I “imitate Christ” (Ephesians 5:1), or will he simply imitate Cassie, acting out of my flesh to appease my SELF? Oh boy, I want to imitate Christ, teaching my boy to do the same.
So that looks like putting a stop to secret sins. Not sneaking scrolls on Instagram in the bathroom. Staying awake and alert, not slothful, worshipping, praying, spending my time and days moment by moment with the Holy Spirit, letting Him dictate my path.