Of course their is always Our Lady, who as the mother of Jesus and is a wonderful example. If we follow in our own way, the devotion in which she along with St Joseph raised Our Lord we can not go far wrong in the nurturing and care of our children, who as we know really are only 'on loan' to us from God as they are His children as well as our selves
Naturally of course we have the example of Jesus in everything we do. His humility and gentleness in his living of everyday life and the way in which He responds to others.
The fact that we have the Holy Family to use as a guide for our own 'Domestic Church', which is our own family circle using the life of Christ as our ultimate guide is fairly indicative of how God has designed us to learn and teach those in our care.
We have a responsibility to love and nurture these little souls as the image they receive about God as a Heavenly Father and Jesus as Our Saviour is gained from the experiences children have at home as they see parents sacrifice as Jesus did, not only large things but the more important everyday things.
We can represent a loving and forgiving Heavenly Father or a unforgiving and harsh Father who is not interested in us but only interested in blind obedience.
Too often I feel parents DEMAND obedience as their right based on what they read in scripture without any thought to how Jesus actually disciplined his disciples.
Too often we see parents responding in an inappropriate manner to children without the thought of how this actually teaches a lack of love and care for others.
Jesus is a forgiving and loving saviour who does what he does out of love for us not as a duty to be fulfilled as I have observed these more 'authoritaian parents' and their relationships with their children.
By no means am I advocating that children have the 'run of the place' so to speak BUT we do need to treat them as persons not mealy as 'our children who have to do as they are told because I am the parent'.
However we should treat them as we would treat Jesus or even a stranger or an adult who we interact with.
Would I speak like that to Jesus or Mrs Smith at church if she upset me like that?
Looking at why the child is acting like they are is important and while I do not succeed in being able to work this out all the time, I do try to make it my goal. I know I have failed and 'lost it' when I have been focused on doing rather than loving and caring.
I believe that you cannot over love a baby, child or another person. We can not have too many people in our lives to love. In fact if we open our hearts to love others I think we just open the capacity to love even more.
Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches is a book that has some thoughts sprinkled through out that I need to remember .
"The more children you have, the more you need to be pastorally minded. Look to each of their souls and their needs. If you are focused on upkeep of the house and the schedule, as long as your child is not interrupting that, you don't worry about it. If you are being a parent who is pastorally minded, you will stop whatever it is that you are doing to go see how your daughter is in her bedroom. Has she been quiet lately? Was that a faint door-slam you heard in the distance? Find out about that. Did one of your kids seem a touch off as they went outside to sit in a tree? Don't let that go. Be a pastor to your children. Study them. Seek them out. Sacrifice the thing you were doing to work through minor emotional issues."
You know it can be much harder to do this with older children, especially in a large family. I have to be especially diligent to make sure I look for those signs that our older children need some TLC (tender loving care). It is fairly obvious with little ones as you no doubt know....they behaviour tends to scream 'look at me, I need you'.
I also need to not be distracted by important and not so important tasks within the home so as to become unaware of any 'wrinkles' in the fabric of family circle.
"So while your children are little, cultivate an attitude of sacrifice. Sacrifice your peace for their fun, your clean kitchen floor for their help cracking eggs, your quiet moment for their long retelling of a dream that a friend of theirs allegedly had. Prioritize your children far and away above the other work you need to get done. They are the only part of your work that really matters."
Once again wise words that need to be in the forefront of my mind as I care and love these special blessings we have been charged with.
There are so many worth while things out in the world we can be involved with, but I believe if we sacrifice the family we have been blessed to have for the 'good of souls' elsewhere we have not lived our vocations correctly and really we have not lived our lives as an example of loving and disciplined service as show to us through the example of Our Lord.
Blessings to you and your homes,