Do you ever feel like parenting is chasing down and chopping up your very last brain cell?
I sure do.
Which is why doing some aspects of parenting on auto-pilot isn’t a bad thing.
I’ve found that having parenting mottoes, or phrases I repeat often (my kids might use the phrase ad nauseam if they knew it existed), have a way of keeping me sane while hitting home valuable lessons in my kids’ hearts.
1.)“You don’t have to want to. You just have to do it.”
Kids complain, right? They delight in letting us know that they don’t approve of what we’ve asked of them. The most popular argument from young children is a simple, “I don’t want to.” Sometimes it’s yelled. Sometimes whined. But not wanting to is never a good reason for not doing what they’ve been asked to do.
2.)“(Insert appropriate Bible verse.)”
The Word of God is living and powerful. There is no better parenting resource than the Bible, because it pierces through behaviors and reaches to the heart. Using Scripture like this is also a subtle way of teaching our children that the Bible is relevant to real life – that it makes a difference in the way we speak and act and react and think.
But first we have to know it. And then live it in such a way that we can help our children apply it authentically, without the hypocrisy that comes when we fail to practice what we preach. Here are some of my favorite Bible verse mottoes:
“Love one another.” (I John 4:7)
“Be kind to one another.” (Ephesians 4:32)
“As much as it depends on you, live in peace with each other.” (Romans 12:18)
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1)
Truly, the options are countless! I, personally, don’t quote these like one typically thinks of rattling off a Bible verse. Rather, I say them very conversationally.
3.)“What does God say?”
Similar to Motto #2, this phrase serves to remind my children what they already know about what God says. So often, children and adults alike know what’s right; but we certainly need reminders to do it, don’t we?
4.)“I’m sorry that happened.”
This is my go-to for when my kids are upset by little things or suffer minor injuries, like a melted popsicle or a stubbed toe. I somewhat regret that I need this go-to, because it reveals that my initial reaction often isn’t sympathetic. But an eye roll and a “Get over it” would crush the tender hearts of my children, not to mention discourage them from coming to me with their concerns in the future.
5.)“In our family, we ___________.”
I love the way this little phrase impresses my kids with an awareness of their identity as part of our larger family unit. Kids need to feel like they belong, and this motto subtly reinforces the belonging feeling that’s part of family identity. Fill in the blank with any value your family holds. “In our family, we speak kindly.” “In our family, we help each other.” “In our family, we engage in fruitful labor.” (I know that one was unexpected. 🙂 But it’s a good one! Read my previous post here for more clarity.)
6.)“Wait until it’s time.”
Do any of your children start planning their next birthday party immediately following the one they had last week? Do they ask on Tuesday what the family plans are for Saturday? Do they ask at breakfast time what snack is going to be? Maybe it’s just my kids, but this one drives me cuh-RAZY! My go-to phrase, “Wait until it’s time,” lets me answer rather calmly and mindlessly, while sending the message to my kids that they need to live in the moment without constantly looking ahead to the next thing.
7.)“You’re one of my favorite people.”
It’s a precious gift to be loved. And just as precious to be liked. I don’t want ever want my kids to doubt that I spend the vast majority of my waking hours with them because I want to, not because I have to. They’re not an inconvenience or a burden. They are souls dearly loved by God, and caring for them is part of a sacred calling. I dare not treat them as anything less.
8.)“This, too, shall pass.”
So far this motto has been for me, truth I preach to myself (though eventually I’m sure I’ll teach my kids this concept, too). It has helped me survive sleepless nights and fountains of vomit and tears at school time for months on end. Here’s the truth: if things are good, savor that happy place, because it won’t last forever. If things are bad, take heart! Because this, too, is fleeting.
I know you’ve got a parenting motto or two to share! Please leave them in the comments below — I’m always on the lookout for new ones! 🙂