OceanSide church of Christ
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THE MOTHER OF A TODDLER
Victor M. Eskew
Elkanah is an Old Testament figure mentioned in I Samuel 1. He was the husband of two wives. One could bear children; the other could not. The woman who was barren was Hannah. Her affliction caused her much grief. Therefore, she prayed to God for a man-child. God honored her sincere petition. “Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord” (I Sam. 1:20).
Hannah was a good mother. She diligently nurtured her child both physically and spiritually. Once she had weaned him, she took him to the temple and dedicated him to the service of God. There he served under the high priest Eli. Eventually, he became a prophet, priest, and judge in Israel. Surely, his mother’s influence in those early years made a difference.
Being a mother of a small child is extremely demanding. As a baby, the child can do nothing for himself. The mother feeds, washes, clothes, and even walks for the child. When small, children are susceptible to numerous illnesses. These cause much discomfort for the child. Usually the mother is the nurse who is on duty 24/7. As the baby grows, the challenge seems to be even greater. The mother must become vigilant about the “whereabouts” of the child. The child has become mobile and has a bundle of energy. Constant running from here to there is not uncommon for the mom. Sometimes this running is done with one or two more children under her arms. Children are also very demanding as they get to be two, three, and four years old. Just watch one in Walmart if you doubt this. A mother’s patience is tried to the “nth” degree. Worship services are also trying times. The child wiggles and squirms for a solid hour. She is passed back and forth from mom and dad to grandmom and granddad a thousand times in one service. Cheerios help, but only for a brief amount of time. They usually provide the energy for the next explosion. Oftentimes a mother will sit through a worship service and hardly be an active participant. One mom remarked while her children were away: “That is the first sermon I’ve heard in years.”
Many moms grow tired of the daily grind. Some of them get angry and frustrated. Many get discouraged with their “thankless” task. They would love to throw up their hands and walk away. Deep inside they wonder: “Am I really making a difference?” The answer to this question is a resounding: “YES!!!” What you are doing in the life of that small child is unfathomable.
There are so many things taking place in the development of a child between the ages of 0 to 10. The following is a list of a few of these things.
1. Maturation of sensory-perceptual and motor functions
2. Social attachment
3. Sensorimotor intelligence and primitive causality
4. Understanding the nature of objects and creating categories
5. Emotional differentiation, interpretation, and regulation
6. Language development
9. Sex-role identification
10. Early moral development
13. Concrete operations
14. Skill learning
16. Team play
Some of these terms may need to be defined to be understood well. Most, however, are very self-explanatory. Several of them are related to spiritual matters (i.e., self-control, sex-role identification, moral development, self-evaluation, and team-play).
Most of the time very little thought is given by the mother to the developmental process of her child. The mother gets caught up I the day-to-day routines of life. The true significance of her actions is forgotten. This is why mothers need to be reminded that what they are doing is very important. They are developing their child’s personality. They are helping to create his character. They are forming his moral base. They are creating his ability to work effectively with others. They are teaching him self-discipline and giving him the ability to evaluate his actions. All of this is taught within the first ten years of life. It will be these things that govern the child for the next sixty-five (plus) years of his life. A failure to adequately teach your child could bring disaster in years to come. Numerous parents have realized this too late.
Timothy’s mother and grandmother had a grasp upon their importance in the life of their child. Paul revealed that Timothy’s faith dwelled first in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (II Tim. 1:5). They had instructed him from a child in the ways of God. “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 3:14). In his adult life, Timothy was a faithful Christian. He was a diligent preacher of the good news of Jesus Christ. His heart exhibited a deep, natural affection for his brethren in Christ. Did all of this happen by chance? Hardly! It was the conscientious work of two faithful women that helped to make this child into the man he became.
In their book Development through Life, Newman and Newman write: “Parents have an enourmous responsibility for maintaining and promoting the psychological growth of their children” (emp. mine, vme, p. 232). We cannot emphasize the words “enormous responsibility” enough. We encourage you to press on. We exhort you to keep up your good, but sometimes discouraging work. We pray for you to have the strength and patience to endure. As you continue in your struggle of child-rearing, we ask that you remember Paul’s words in Galatians 6:9. “And let us not grow weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” I Corinthians 15:58 should also be a passage kept close to the heart of each mother of young children. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (emp. mine, vme).