As I’m typing this, I am listening to my husband praising our two year old for going to the potty. In the background is the sound of worship music and the smell of bacon. He is setting the tone for the day, one which I hope will foster positive growth for our two curious, sweet (can I also say a bit stubborn, whiny, and wild?) little boys. Sometimes the task seems daunting.
My nose will likely guide me into the kitchen soon, but at this second, I’m considering how we can best guide these boys in living the best lives they can with the gifts they’ve been given. It won’t be long before they are no longer wearing those Spiderman PJs and alligator house shoes; our time is ticking.
I am not one to read parenting books. I find pages of to-do lists and “one size fits all” methods to be slightly annoying. When I saw that Korie Robertson had written a book on this topic, I was hopeful that it would be different. From what I’ve read and seen, she seems to be a genuinely classy woman of faith who, along with her husband Willie, strives to raise her children to live by Godly standards and to love and serve the world around them.
In her book, Strong and Kind, Korie describes the qualities that she and Willie prayed for and worked to instill in their children. Early on in parenting, she was asked, “What are two important character traits that you want to see in your children?” With stories of successes and trials, she explains why she chose “strong” and “kind”. She gives glimpses into her and her husband’s early years and illustrates how God can take two very different backgrounds and personalities to create a unique and beautiful family.
Korie describes why she chose the traits she picked as her top two, but she also goes into detail about seven other traits. Many of them are “fruits of the Spirit” found in Galatians 5. Many overlap, which seems only natural since the fruits all flow from the same God; if we have faith in Him, we should possess at least some degree of all of these traits and a desire to further pursue them.
In a recent post, I shared with you my prayers for my children and my desire to encourage them to live the best they can with the gifts they’ve been given. If we want it to go beyond a simple wish, my husband and I must be intentional about showing them and shaping them—pretty scary considering our less-than-perfect selves and marriage. It’s refreshing to read about the weaknesses and worries of other couples, especially ones like the Robertsons who appear to have a lot figured out.
Korie emphasizes the importance of family and especially husband/wife teams working together, but the content can be applied in divorced families and single-parent homes also. No matter the circumstance or the age of the child(ren), it is never too late to work on our own example for our families and teach them how to live out these traits which will lead them deeper into a life of serving the God who loves them and wants to give them a joyful purpose.
Strong and Kind has certainly helped me contemplate a more clear focus when it comes to parenting. It also reminds me of the excitement that exists in watching and helping little brains grow, a feeling that tends to get buried under stressful routines and unexpected trials. I especially enjoyed the chapter on being creative.
So what are the top two traits I want to focus on with my own children? One I know for sure is “giving”. I want them to LOVE giving generously, not only their money but also their time and their gifts. I’m undecided on the other. I’m leaning towards “humility”, which Korie describes as “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance”. Her mother taught her that “most people are too busy thinking about themselves to worry about what anyone else looks like or is doing”, which reminds me of a post I wrote last year called Black Sheep, Blue Sheep. I also love her description of “strong”, a synonym of “resilience” which describes one who can easily bounce back after withstanding trials.
When I asked my husband for his top two, he was quick to say “compassionate” and “hard-working”, both wonderful traits. Perhaps I could get him to write down some commentary like Willie did for Korie’s different traits.
I don’t know if we will be able to narrow it down to our top two, but Korie’s words have at least gotten us to consider which traits we want to see in our kids and how to become more intentional about teaching them.
Overall, I am left feeling inspired, but not in the sense that I need to accomplish unrealistic goals. I am inspired to be more real and more intentional with my time and to be honest about my own strengths and weaknesses as a person and a parent. I am left remembering how blessed we are with this opportunity, and reminded that our time with these sweet children is precious.
If I had to pick one person in the book who I want to be like, it is the person who is only given a few pages—Mamaw Jo. You’ll just have to read it to understand why.
I will leave you with this sneak peak, her telling of an old Indian story called “The Tale of Two Wolves”:
Linking up today at Literacy Musing Mondays:
and at Mondays @ Soul Survival: