Several years ago, a friend (who was a brand new mother), asked me for my ten best tips . . . .thought I might repeat them and would love to hear some of yours:
1) Take your children to church every Sunday - don't stay home "just because" - immerse them in the life of the church - be involved in their church activities (this is from the beginning!!) - when you are rocking them, sing hymns to them - teach them that Jesus lives in "their heart"
2) Don't just take them to church, but live YOUR life as an example - and when you do screw up (which I did many times and you will too) just make sure that you tell them that you are sorry and always always make sure that they know how much you love them
3)Start praying with your children now - no matter how old they are - and as soon as they are able, let them pray and teach them to pray about anything and everything and teach them to be willing to pray out loud (so that when they become a youth or adult, they won't be afraid to pray in their Bible study or Sunday School class). Teach them confidentiality - prayer requests are not gossip.
4) Children love routine - whatever your family does -- homework after school, then dinner, then bath, then bed (or whatever works for you!)
5) Speaking of bedtime - kids need lots of sleep - they might tell you that they don't, but they do - make sure they go to bed early!! (when ours were toddlers, they were in bed by 7 and up by 5:30 . . .even when they were in high school, they usually were in bed by ten on school nights - pretty much by their choice at that point)
6) Speaking of routine - eat dinner together as a family (whether there are just two of you or 10 of you) - eat dinner together as a family as many nights a week as possible and ask them about their day and don't accept "fine" - ask them open ended questions - "What was your favorite part of the day?" "what was the worst part of your day?" (I now own a great box of questions which would be wonderful to use as dinner conversation questions . . . like "what is your favorite movie"?
7) If you are married, take care of your marriage - Dr. Bert Pitts told our young mother's support group (at Trinity a million years ago!!) that the best gift you can give your children is for the two of you to take time as a couple - go somewhere at least once a year and leave your child(ren) with a grandparent or trusted friend -- this one is very very very good advice
8) I've been trying to think of some good "baby" or "little child" advice but I loved using lap pads (those pads that are soft on one side and plastic on the other) in their baby beds . . . when they had any kind of accident, there was not as much mess to clean up - but they didn't have OVERNIGHT diapers back in the late 80's - WOW!
9) Always remember -- You are the parent - you can be "friends" with your child, but you are still the parent. There will be times when you aren't popular with your child - they will get over it - I promise. I've heard parents say, "I don't want to do this or that because my child won't like me (take away their phone as punishment, etc.)" YOU ARE THE PARENT!! Hear me again - YOU ARE THE PARENT.
10) pray for your child - by name - every time - sometimes in their lives you will pray their name so many times a day that you will say things like, "Hey God - It's me again and I'm bringing my child to you once again" . . .and now that my children are 26 and we have a daughter-in-law, too . . .I'm still praying for them by name - multiple times - every day!!!
11) One extra one - have fun!! Go to the park - look at the spider webs (I never realized how beautiful they can be with the dew on them) - teach them to "sniff" the flowers, not pick them - teach them to fish (Mark - not me) - ride bikes - play kickball in your backyard - color and draw - play with play dough . . .spend time with them . . .I recently saw a young mother so busy texting that she was missing some really cute things her child was doing. This is a fact - you will blink . . .and that colicky baby will be 26 years old. Don't miss it because you are too busy texting. . . .
Here are my babies . . .they all love Jesus! They are all gainfully employed. They are wonderful, kind and caring young adults. I am so proud of them.