Goodness is Not
We all have that friend who only seems interested in talking about her life or her struggles or her accomplishments. She constantly interrupts in conversation and redirects to her desired topic. You do not feel heard and your opinion is not considered. As time progresses you invest less and less time in this relationship, instead seeking friendships that value your advice or needs. But what about when that “friend” is your toddler?
In motherhood, we seek to display goodness to our children. Goodness is not always being right and firmly indoctrinating our children in God’s truth with no questions asked. Goodness is not repetition and rote memorization. To display goodness to our children, we invite them into real conversations and real opportunities to taste and see that the Lord is good for themselves.
Goodness is not forcing our children to repeat and recite verses, doctrines, or biblical facts. Goodness is training our children to understand the wisdom of the Lord and why it is important to live in His truth. Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” As mothers, we are responsible for teaching and training our children. While instructing our children, let us also train them to have teachable spirits and soft hearts. Goodness is not providing them with the answers to every scenario and a Biblical cheat sheet for all of life’s problems, but guiding them to seek wisdom and knowledge from the Lord.
Goodness is not talking at our children and expecting them to process our desired behaviors through osmosis. Goodness is not lecturing, chastising, or berating our children to indoctrinate them in our own way of thinking. Rather, goodness is facilitating open discussion and loving correction that is always grounded in the Word of God and His truths. Let us instill in them the value of listening to and learning from the experiences of others. Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” As we aim to teach our children to follow the Lord, let us aim to create open lines of communication so our children feel heard and understood. In this way we cultivate a safe place for them to explore the world and recognize the benefits of community, family, and leadership. Goodness is not talking at our children, but goodness is talking with our children and inviting them into a relationship with their parents that mirrors their relationship with their Heavenly Father.
As your child tells you the same stories about their day and explains to you the same newly learned facts on repeat (that you already know), remember that this is an opportunity to show your child goodness. Remember that goodness is not always speaking or always correcting. Goodness is allowing your child to grow and learn, while offering encouragement and loving correction when needed. “How often this happens, even between the best of friends! Each of us believes that what he has to say is much more important than anything the other might have to contribute!” (JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince). Goodness is not demanding to be heard and dismissing all other thoughts, views, and opinions. Goodness is allowing for discussion and for all members to be heard. We are teaching our children and we cannot expect for them to know, do, or say the right things on their own. Let us remember that they are “like newborn infants, [who] long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it [they] may grow into salvation- if indeed [they] have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2-3, alterations mine).
So as we prepare for another day of motherhood, let us remember to be good listeners, have good discussions, and direct our children to the goodness of the Lord. In the end, motherhood is not about us and it is not about our children. Motherhood is about glorifying God by knowing Him and making Him known to our families. Let us glorify Him in our conversations with our children and let His goodness be displayed is our thoughts, intentions, and actions.