Sarah Satterblom and Gwen Carlson share the blessing of biblical mentorship through a Parenting Q&A
As a mom of young kiddos (4 kids 5-years-old and under) life was so busy and chaotic. I ended up in a bible study with Gwen, and we frequently would talk after group. She would encourage me in parenting, marriage, and my faith journey. Soon we were leading Bible studies together, getting together to hang out, and praying together. She took time to pour into me, pressed into my life, got to know my children, prayed for me, and SAW me. I would glean from her how to weather these years well, while she encouraged me to delight in my children. I was even blessed by Gwen and her husband, Stan, watching our kids so Kyle and I could attend a class together or go on an occasional date. Having support from people like Gwen, who were ahead of me in life, was a lifeline during that busy stage and is invaluable at every stage of life I’ve been in so far. I am so thankful for the blessing of community and mentorship, and for the Titus 2 model of connecting across generations. Gwen said she benefited too, getting to ask me questions to help her be the best mother-in-law she could be and having kids at church running up to hug her, but I definitely got the better end of the deal! –Sarah
The Parenting Q&A:
Sarah: How can I help each of my kids to feel loved and seen? It is so hard to get one-on-one time with them, and I am worried I’m going to miss seeing each of them for who they are and guiding them in their faith at pivotal moments.
Gwen: We are going to begin with the first verse in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. Remember that the Lord will provide for all our needs. He will lead and guide us as our Shepherd as we shepherd our children. We do not understand all about our children’s hearts, but God does. When we ask for wisdom, He will give it to us generously (James 1:5). We can shepherd our children and help them feel loved by being available when they want to talk, often at bedtime. As we listen to their heart, pray for wisdom for answers to their questions. When we understand our child’s heart, we can guide them in their faith.
Children can feel loved when we show them grace, even when they do not deserve it. For example, when they have done something wrong and you have shown them loving discipline, deliberately think of ways to show them grace by doing something together that they do not deserve or something they would not expect after their behavior. Take the child out to eat or to some other special activity that they would enjoy. Shepherding a child with grace will help them understand God’s grace for them.
Spending time with each child is important, but it can be hard to find the time. I took advantage of short periods of free time. After picking up one child from school, we would stop at McDonalds for quick after school snack before it was time to pick up the other children. This was a good opportunity to get one-on-one time with that child. I tried to make each of my children feel loved by hugging them, being available when they wanted to talk, memorizing Bible verses with them, praying with them and for them, doing some fun activities with them, and encouraging them.
Sarah: How can I stay connected to my husband as I parent children? How do I encourage him to lead and give him good opportunities to connect with each of the children? There doesn’t seem to be enough time!
Gwen: One way my husband and I stayed connected as we parented children was to occasionally go out to eat at noon while the children were in school. Other ways we connected were participating together in activities with our children. Those family activities usually needed teachers, coaches, and volunteers. Our children liked reading the Picture Bible, and my husband thought using the Picture Bible would be a great way to teach grade school Sunday School classes. He had opportunity to connect with our children by explaining the Scriptures.
Volunteering at AWANA, coaching sports, and helping with Bible Quizzing were activities that brought us together. My husband also volunteered with 5th Quarter, which was a gathering of teens at Calvary after the high school football games. A favorite activity of the guys was to play football in the church parking lot, so the dads chaperoned. It was a good way for my husband to be involved in an activity that involved our sons. Inside, the moms baked Papa Murphy’s pizza in the church kitchen, while teens enjoyed eating, talking, and listening to music.
Sarah: What is your best parenting advice?
Gwen: My best parenting advice is to pray often for wisdom and strength, to share the gospel with them, and to love and enjoy your children! One of my favorite Bible verses is “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 Some of my prayers have been “help,” which means I have this bundle of concerns for my child and I need to know what to do now. Other times, my prayers are longer as I talk to the Lord about each child’s needs. Also praying with our children is important so they can note answers to their prayers, which will help their faith grow.
One way to love our children is to expect obedience. It is important to train your children to obey so they will learn to obey God. When disciplining your children, seek to understand their hearts by asking “why” questions. Sometimes, give your children expectations that are hard or impossible to do on their own, so that they will not rely on self but learn that they need God to help them. Then, explain the gospel to them so they know that Jesus loves them, died for their sins, and rose again. Guide the children to understand that God will forgive them and give them a new life with strength to obey Him. Sharing the gospel with children and guiding them as they learn to love and obey God are very important parental privileges.
Sarah: What is something you are so thankful you did when you had kids at home? What do you wish you had done more of or differently?
Gwen: All kids like to eat, so we ate dinner as a family sitting around the table. It was a time for communication with our children, along with our late night talks. I’m thankful for these times I connected with my children. What do I wish I could have done more of or differently? I wish I could have found more one-on-one time with each of my children during their busy teen years.
Stan and I have been attending Calvary since August, 1987. We have three adult children who have graduated from college, married, and blessed us with seven grandchildren. We are involved in the small group ministry at church, and I am in a Renovaré bible study on Thursday mornings at Calvary. Some of my other favorite activities are reading, quilting, gardening with flowers and herbs, camping with my husband in our trailer and riding our E-bikes, traveling to various states to visit our children and grandchildren, and gathering with my siblings and a close cousin and her husband. I have learned the importance of our time together, since my younger sister went home to be with Jesus this last February. God gives His comfort and strength. “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasure of living with you forever.” Psalm 16:8,11