But while there is often a lot said about specific tips and tricks of the trade when it comes to raising children, there is also something that often (although not always) gets left unsaid as we try to figure out how to be the best mothers we can be. In fact, I would argue that this mostly unspoken piece of advice really ought to be the number one priority for every parent in all places and at all times.
We need to pray for our children.
We must pray fervently and continually and we must never forget that this is the best thing we can ever do for these souls which have been entrusted to our care.
There is a line in the Orthodox wedding service that says
"The prayers of parents make firm the foundations of houses."
In other words, a parents prayers are VERY powerful, and it's our job to see that we make firm foundations for the houses of our children. Of course those foundations must be laid by building good habits and by teaching our children right from wrong, but it is telling here that the line above says that the parents' prayers are what make those foundations firm.
It's very easy to start parenting from fear because we don't see immediate results. When I see my children tell a lie, or purposely hurt one another I get
But when I let that fear take hold and let it drive me to try this or that new method or discipline, frantically switching from one to another, searching for that magic "cure" for bad behavior, what is really happening is that I am trying to take matters into my own hands and leave God out of it. I try to do things my way because I want to be in control.
But prayer for my children implies a leaning on God and not on my own power to try and build those foundations myself. I have been given these children, but they are not mine, they are His. And He loves them and wants their salvation infinitely more that I ever could.
When I pray for my children I am allowing God to work in my own heart as well as in the hearts of my children. I am covering them with grace by the very act of bringing them before Christ so that He can do what I cannot. The following words from St. Porphyrios describe the effects beautifully:
Prayer for others which is made gently and with deep love is selfless and has great spiritual benefit. It brings grace to the person who prays and also to the person for whom he is praying. When you have great love and this loves moves you to prayer, then the waves of love are transmitted and affect the person for whom you are praying and you create around him a shield of protection and you influence him, you lead him towards what is good. When He sees your efforts, God bestows His grace abundantly on both you and on the person you are praying for.
Prefer prayer and speak to [your children] through prayer. Speak to God and God will speak to their hearts.
Say, " Lord Jesus Christ, give Your light to my children. I entrust them to You. You gave them to me, but I am weak and unable to guide them, so, please, illuminate them."
One way is the perfect way - for the mother's and father's holiness and love in Christ to speak. The radiance of sanctity and not human effort makes for good children.
St. Porphyrios in Wounded by Love
*The title of this post comes from an earlier post I wrote about the prayers of my own parents and their effects on my life.