Beyond salvation and a godly marriage, my children are the greatest gifts I have ever been given.
Sometimes it makes me totally speechless how amazing it is to be their mom. To watch them grow, discover, and become men and women of God.
It awes me beyond words that before the foundations of the earth, God had a plan for each of them – to play a part in His eternal story – and that through these little ones, He will raise up the next generation of Christ-fearing men and women.
They are the greatest thing I will leave behind. My heritage – to live on decades and even centuries after I am in Heaven.
As their mom, I want to open every door and opportunity possible. I want to give them every tool they could ever need.
However, (like most of us) I have a limited amount of energy and an even more limited budget.
Having limited resources is not a bad thing; It is an opportunity to choose best over secondary.
It’s a chance for us as parents to stand back and say ” I cannot give my children ‘everything,’ but I can give them what’s important – so what is important?”
And this opportunity – brought on by a tight budget and limited energy – creates the need for purposeful and thoughtful parenting.
I’ve needed to think A LOT about what my children’s most important needs are – and what the ‘needs’ are that I’ve simply perceived based on the loves I’ve adopted from society.
With everything, you need to minimize things – in order to maximize the pursuit of what you value.
No great thing is achieved without great sacrifice.
I want to make sure that the things I’m sacrificing are not the real needs but the extras that I’ve simply been perceiving as ‘needs.’
Example: Our family budget is such that I am able to stay at home and be with my children – at the cost of living in a small house, shopping at Goodwill and limiting trips to business and family.
This is hard for me sometimes as I feel like I would like to give my children ‘better.’
A society that measures ones’ worth by their designer clothes and house screams at me that my children should be wearing Tommy Hilfiger, each have their own room, and be enrolled in expensive dance lessons.
But then I re-evaluate.
I even go write lists about what my children ‘need’ so that I can read it and remember what I need to minimize and what I need to maximize.
More then being known as kids who have nice clothes and cool rooms, I want my kids’ character to shine as lights.
- I want my children to be thankful, be diligent, and be good at getting along with others.
A shared room makes them learn to share, clean up, and be patient with each other.
(My limited resources are not hindering my most important tool I want to give them (good character). Their less-than-perfect situation is HELPING with my biggest goal for them!!)
- I want my children to learn to be good stewards.
Because of our low budget, they are already learning about buying things that are a good value and a good price.
There are physical things I’ve determined each of my children will always have no matter what.
(They each have their own toy basket for their special toys and a different basket for own clothes. They each have their own bed to go and read and be alone. They each have scheduled ‘dates’ with my husband and with me. Soon they will each have their own desk to get their homework done in a designated quiet room. They each cover the same school material every year from 2 years up and each have that daily alone time with me.)
But for all the society – ordained ‘needs,’ they have been learning to be content on far less then society’s representation of the ‘ideal,’ and that has actually helped with their character training not hindered it.
- I want my children to work for what they want.
The life tools that will help them most to become successful adults come through struggle and hard work.
Fortitude, discipline, and courage can only come through stretching situations. I don’t need a ton of resources to teach them that.
My children will not be getting very high allowances in high school. But I do plan on helping them start their own little businesses on Etsy or trying lawn/cleaning/babysitting services to neighbors. They will learn about business planning, target audiences and marketing, and they will learn how to work with people and be worthy of their wages.
And yes, (addressing one of the biggest questions people ask parents with limited resources) we will not be able to pay for our children’s entire college education.
(At least I doubt we will.)
But I am a firm believer in students having to pay at least part of their own way.
While we do have plans in play to provide as much as half of their education costs, much of their education will be paid for by their own sweat.
Why is that a good thing? When they finish college, they will actually have job experience on their resume and will appreciate the degree that they had to sacrifice for, work for, and fight for.
My parents could have afforded to pay for my entire education. I am glad they didn’t. They paid for half, and I paid for the rest – sometimes easing my financial burden by academic scholarships or less expensive correspondence classes. I had to sit out of college two semesters to work, worked every every summer and almost every semester and used my entire high school savings as well.
I learned to covet that degree and when I was in that classroom, I hung on every word the teachers taught. I had to work for the thing I wanted and never took it lightly.
And already I am already trying to teach my children that mindset. When they want a toy at Walmart, I give them jobs to earn it. Even at 3 and 4 they are learning to work for things and, in the safety of home, learning money sense.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY, I want my children to define themselves and their worth by their identity in Christ.
And that once again gets back to focus. If my focus is on Christ, then I can learn to look past our clothes and house and see that we are precious in His plan.
With one look at His awesome majesty, I can clear away the clutter of society’s perceptions of ‘needs’ – and recognize that we were bought for an unfathomable price.
When my focus is turned to my identity in Him, His light shines on those perceived needs and reveals them to be the shallow kitsch that they are.
Then I’m free to pursue the real needs – Him – and teaching my children about Him and the glorious identity they can find in Him.
They do not need a nice house or name brand clothes to help them succeed.
They need a mama who puts Christ first and, looking through His glory can minimize the distractions and maximize the pursuit of real needs – helping her children to know Christ and learning to pursue Him.