The moment each of my children entered this world, I felt amazed, in awe, and scared out of my mind that I wouldn’t know how to raise them to be the people I want them to be. I didn’t know what I was doing.
With my first, I tried to control him. I worried about every little thing he said or did, afraid people might judge me for my child’s behavior. He was a reasonable child, though, easy to talk to, wanting to please.
He’s brilliant and funny with a deep compassion within him that he’s too embarrassed to acknowledge at times. I love him fiercely and couldn’t ever imagine loving another child as much.
Then, I had my next. With my second, another son, I learned my heart held enough love for another. I think it was my first lesson in the unlimited capacity of love that we possess.
From the very moment this son could express his unique personality, he did.
But he was sensitive, kind, compassionate, even very early on. Because of that and because I had grown up a little, I no longer felt the need to control.
Good thing, because he was definitely his own person. An old soul, some called him. A free spirit, others said. Both are true.
Related Post: 10 Prayers for My Teenage Daughter
When Erin, my daughter, was born, I already knew I could love her as much as the other two. Excitement and joy filled me, but fear swirled around inside me too, tempering my joy.
Six years had passed since I’d had a baby. I finally thought I had the hang of raising my kids, my boy kids anyway. Having a girl presented totally new challenges.
I was so excited, but I was scared, especially as she grew, and I saw how different she was than I had ever been. That’s not a bad thing; I don’t mean that. I only mean that I was afraid her different personality would keep me from knowing how to help her in her times of need.
Confidence in myself has been slow to grow; I still lack confidence in my parenting and have resigned myself to the fact that I probably always will.
As my daughter heads into her teen years, I want to steer her in the right direction. I want her to be strong and confident in herself and in who she is as she battles the every day issues teenage girls face.
Because I know I don’t always have the right things to say, I’ve learned to turn to God and His Word to help direct my preteen daughter.
These are my favorite five verses that she and I turn to over and over as reminders that He is in control, that He has great plans for her, and that she can do all things with the strength He gives her (and it’s a great big strength!):
1. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
When Erin started 5th grade, she ran for class representative of student council. She didn’t win. To her dismay, she didn’t even come in second. “And, Mom,” she cried, “There were only three people running!”
Her heart was broken.
I turned to Jeremiah 29:11 to help parent her. We opened her Bible together, turned to the scripture, and read it together.
“Sis,” I told her. “This is the best time to learn and understand this verse. Sometimes things don’t go like we plan. It’s okay to be briefly disappointed that our expectations haven’t worked out, but don’t dwell on it. Instead, dwell on this verse and know that He has other plans in store for us and those plans will be perfect for you.”
Months later, I learned first hand how Erin had taken that scripture to heart. Something else at school hadn’t quite gone as she planned. As I walked by her room on my way to the living room, I heard her reciting, voice strong, “For I know the plans I have for you…”
2. 2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
One recent Saturday, I picked Erin up earlier than expected from a sleepover because something terrible had happened. The night before, one of her closest school friends was involved in a head-on collision.
Both parents died at the scene, a brother taken to a Columbia hospital in serious condition, my daughter’s friend taken to a Kansas City children’s hospital in critical condition.
My daughter cried. “Mom, this only happens in the movies. It’s not supposed to happen in real life! It doesn’t happen in real life!”
We sat together and hugged and cried and prayed, helpless in our inability to do anything for her friend except pray but knowing how important our praying would be.
Facing the harsh reality that these things do happen in real life comes too early in a person’s life. It’s so hard to understand. I told her that this world is temporary for all of us, even those we love, even ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:18 reminds us of this.
We take comfort in the hope and joy of eternal life.
3. 1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
Erin and I discussed people and how difficult they sometimes are to be around. She serves as part of her school’s student council (she kept on trying after her initial 5th grade election loss, and she made it!) and had attended a planning meeting the day before
“Mom,” she told me. “Sometimes the kids at school just complain. All they want to do is gripe about everything. I really don’t like that.
I took a moment to glance over at her. It was obvious from her expression this weighed heavily on her mind.
I considered her words and remembered all of the many meetings I’ve been to throughout the years where so much time was wasted while people complained.
“I know people are like that,” I told her. “Sis, it’s hard to get away from it. The best thing we can do ourselves, our own personal responsibility, is to always strive to see the good in every situation, the good in everyone. We need to see the God in everything, in everyone. He’s always there whether they know it or not.”
Complainers bring others down. Our words can uplift and encourage but even more importantly than that, our actions in truth will make the biggest difference of all.
4. Proverbs 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in The Lord is kept safe.
One time Erin, then a 5th grader, came to me, worry etched on her face. “Mom,” she said to me. “Mom, I’m starting to care what I look like at school, and it really bothers me because I don’t really care what people think of me.”
Obviously, she had started to care and that scared her.
I took a long look at her sweet face and thought back over the many ‘interesting’ outfits she had chosen through the last few years such as black and red striped tights paired with a green plaid skirt or the flowing hippie dress with the pink and blue long john shirt under it or the platform silver sandals which were supposed to be for dress-up play but that she tried to wear to church (we had to step in on that one and send her back to her room to change).
“Sis,” I told her. “You keep being who you are. Our rules are that you need to be clean and you need to wear age appropriate clothing. Other than that, be you. People will always have opinions of you, some good and some not. Dress for you.
Be strong in who you are because Christ is in you. Stand up tall and I promise you the majority of people will think good things. Most importantly, Christ will think good things, and that’s what counts.
I love her determination to be who she is and to not care what people think, but I completely understand her worry and fear.
My entire life, I often hid my true self from others as I was afraid of their criticism or rejection. I altered myself both in the clothes I chose to wear and the words I chose to speak.
I wasn’t confident enough to be the true me. In fact, I believe that I spent so many years being someone else that I lost track of who I really am. I never want my daughter to feel that way.
5. Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Erin and I stood outside the meeting room waiting to go in. Her hands shook and she looked as if she might cry. Erin takes after me in that she likes to speak in public.
Recently, she’d won a preliminary round of an oratorical contest and moved on to the next round. That is what we were waiting for, the next round to start.
Because the new level of competition took place in front of a panel of judges from throughout our community, Erin’s stress level had risen. Her nerves had taken over.
I knew she could do it. She’s a wonderful speaker. My words didn’t seem to be calming her, however.
Turning to scripture was necessary. Together, we prayed. Then quietly, I whispered Philippians 4:13 to her.
“Remember,” I told her. “Christ is within you. He won’t necessarily take away your nerves. You will still be a little scared. But when you look for Him and find Him inside you, you will be able to draw on His strength which He provides for you. With Christ, you can do anything.”
She smiled at me. “I can do that, Mom.”
“I know you can,” I told her.
And she did.
As I continue through my parenting journey, I frequently make mistakes. I worry and I wonder whether I’m doing the right things. I thank God for His Words and guidance for with them, I know I can’t go wrong. I’m constantly looking for new scriptures to help me guide not just my preteen daughter, but my sons too. Together, He and I can raise some pretty awesome people.
Related Posts (more about my kids):
10 Prayers for My Teenage Daughter – prayers for all I hope for my daughter as she goes through her teen years.
Granting God’s Grace in Difficult Situations – how I handled it when my teenage son and his girlfriend got pregnant.
From Sweet Baby Boy to Kind Young Man (and the Tough Teen Years in Between) – looking back with perspective over raising my son (the one who had my granddaughter when he was 19) and appreciating the man he’s becoming.
What are your favorite parenting verses? Please share them in the comment section below. We can all use the extra support for each other and from God’s Word!
Photo Source from Dollar Photo Club/littleny