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How I Became a Gentle Parent

I remember that day so clearly.

I was cleaning the kitchen, and I was in no-nonsense, let’s-get-this-done mode.

My plans were quickly derailed, though, when someone bumped into the 5-year-old. As soon as I heard it I thought, “Oh no, here we go.” This particular child was very sensitive, and I knew from past experience that getting bumped would be a huge deal to them.

I was formulating how I would quickly shut down their cries so I wouldn’t have to stop cleaning. It would have sounded something like, “You’re fine. You’re not hurt. We're not going to cry about this.” I wouldn’t have taken time to stoop to my child’s level, to really see them, and to comfort them in their distress. That would have been too inconvenient and would have taken too much of my time. Why, anyway, did they need comforting when they had literally barely even been bumped? What they really needed was to toughen up.

But before the words could come out of my mouth, the whisper of the Holy Spirit reminded me that “The fruit of the Spirit is…gentleness.” The message came so clearly that it took my breath away.

As soon as I recovered from the jolt, I turned around and instead of offering an admonition to my child to stop crying, I stooped down and hugged them. “I’m sorry you got bumped,” I said. 

My child didn’t need me to shut them down. They didn’t need my admonition to toughen up. They needed my gentleness.

I don’t remember how the rest of the conversation went. I imagine that if I had a video where I could replay the rest of the interaction I’d still do some things differently. I had a lot to learn about child development, how the nervous system works, and how some people have a more sensitive system than others. I'd never read anything about connected parenting, or how to ensure my children perceive on a cellular level that they are safe and loved.

But the fact that I didn’t know any of those things is evidence to me of just how important it is for parents to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, who leads us to a posture of gentleness.

Could I have parented with more understanding if I’d had more knowledge? Yes, I could have. But I didn’t know. And there are still things I don't know and mistakes I still make. Now that I have teenagers, I'm entering more new territory, and while I do my best to understand my children as they progress into young adulthood, I am not omniscient, and I will undoubtedly mess up.

While I believe that as parents it is wise to learn as much evidence-based information about child development as we can, my ability to be a gentle parent does not hinge on whether I read all the right books. Parenting content is widely varied and often conflicting, and I cannot expect the information I consume to be infallible.

But what I can do is what I did on that day in the kitchen. I can listen to the Spirit’s voice reminding me to be gentle and patient, humble and kind.


Gentleness is the opposite of harsh and demanding. Gentleness gives a soft answer. Gentleness does not lay heavy burdens on my child and express anger or disappointment when my child doesn’t meet my expectations. That is not the way God loves any of us. He loves us unconditionally. Yes, he instructs and teaches us. Yes, he corrects us when we’re out of line. Yet he is not angry or disappointed with his children. He does not coerce us into behavior modification; rather, his desire for relationship with us draws us into desiring relationship with him in return.


As a spirit-controlled parent, I also have the power to exhibit patience toward my children. I can give them room to make mistakes and wait patiently while they go through the process of learning new things. I can repeat the same things over and over, knowing that learning requires repetition. I can remember that God gives wisdom to his children without rebuking them for what they don't know, and do the same for my own children.


The Holy Spirit also gives me the power to be a humble parent by acknowledging that there is a lot I don’t know and being willing to learn, both from my children and from others. I can admit when I have said or done something hurtful to my children and give a genuine apology for it. I can accept the reality that, just as my children don’t always get things right, neither do I. I’m not in a privileged position of being understanding about my parenting shortcomings while refusing to be understanding toward my children on their “childing” shortcomings.


As children of God, we ought to treat others the way we would want to be treated, and that includes our children. I wish for others to allow me space to make mistakes – I must also allow my children space to make mistakes. I wish for others to understand that sometimes I’m tired or overwhelmed or sad or have a reason to feel irritated – I must also understand that sometimes my children are tired, overwhelmed, sad, and have reasons to feel irritated. It is possible to act righteously in the midst of those very real and normal feelings. Teaching my children to respond rightly to difficult circumstances does not need to include shutting their feelings down and making them feel like they’re wrong for having them.  

In conclusion, I'd like to point out that the LORD is gracious, and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy (Psalm 145:8).

I may not have every piece of knowledge about child development. I am bound to make parenting decisions that I will realize later were not the wisest.

But in the midst of my imperfect parenting, I can remember that the Spirit of a perfectly loving God dwells in me. The more I know of him, and the more closely I listen to the voice of his Spirit, the more I reflect his heart and exhibit his character to my children. As I follow him, I learn that there is no other Christlike way to parent than to parent with gentleness – to be gracious and full of compassion, to be slow to anger and give an abundance of mercy to my children.

How to Pray for Your Husband When He’s Not a Godly Father

In the past I’ve shared some characteristics of a Godly father that I've observed.

But what if your husband is not a Godly father? What if he:

-Disciplines the children too harshly
-Undermines your parenting
-Speaks disrespectfully to you and allows your children to do the same
-Does not show interest in teaching the kids spiritual things
-Does not spend time with the children
-Does not help you care for the children

No doubt it’s hard to watch your children not receive the loving care that they deserve from a father. No doubt it’s hard to do all the work to teach them and take care of them and not to receive any participation from your spouse.

I imagine that if your children’s father is this kind of a man that you have already spent time in prayer, asking God to change his heart and help him be the right kind of a father. (Read: 10 Ways to Pray for the Father of Your Children.)

But what if nothing is changing?

Where do you go from here?

What I am about to share is by no means a comprehensive answer. Without knowing you, I can’t possibly offer insight into your unique situation. I only want to give you some options to think about.

If you are unsure if there is something deeper at play, I encourage you to check out one of these books, which will give you much more information than I can provide here: (affiliate links)
Is it Me? Making Sense of Your Confusing Marriage

The Emotionally Destructive Marriage

In the meantime, here are some ways that you can pray for your husband when he is not a godly father.

How to pray for your husband when he's not a godly father

1. Pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal areas of his life that are not submitted to God.

Sometimes an area where we ourselves have grown is not the same area where our spouse is growing at the moment. Maybe he is learning other things right now and the areas of needed growth that are so clear from your perspective are not something he has seen yet.

Important to note: God is faithful to answer our prayers; however, this is not a guarantee that your spouse will change. When God does the revealing, your husband must make the choice to act on what God reveals to him about his character.

Why doesn’t he change? God will never force anyone to change. Obedience to God is a voluntary choice, and it is up to your husband to make that choice.

What to look for: Is there evidence of spiritual growth in other areas of your husband’s life? I am not speaking of outward shows of religion. Anyone can read their Bible, pray, sing spiritual songs, and say spiritual words. These are outward behaviors. But is there evidence of an ongoing transformation of your husband’s inner life? When there is an area of his life that has not been a reflection of Christ, does he humbly repent and submit that area to the Lord? Although he may have areas that still need adjusting, is his overall demeanor characterized by the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance?

If there is not evidence of an ongoing inner transformation into the image of Christ, it is not likely that you will see him become more Christlike in his parenting either.

2. Pray that God will give you the words to speak to your husband.

“You are not your husband’s holy spirit.” Many wives have heard these words and believe that it is wrong for them to speak up when they see something in their husband’s life that is not Christlike.

But while it is true that it is not our place to dictate to another believer what he must and must not do, it is also true that as believers we are called to:

-exhort one another so that none will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13)
-provoke one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)
-restore the one who sins, in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1)
-speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)

You can speak the truth to your husband in love, asking God to give you the wisdom to know what to say to him. (James 1:5) 

If you feel that speaking truth into your husband’s life and calling him to a more Christ-like way of life will only make him angry or cause negative consequences for you, that is a much bigger problem, which leads me to the next point.

3. Pray that you will have wisdom to know how to protect your children.

If speaking up to your husband is only going to create negative consequences for you and your children, I encourage you to do what is necessary for everyone’s safety and well-being.

I am not saying to keep your mouth closed and go on living as if there’s nothing wrong. 

I am saying that if your husband has already demonstrated in the past that his response would cause distress to you or your children, then there is no sense in trying an approach of talking to him. He has already shown what is in his heart. Your priority now is to protect your children.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)

Being an agent of mercy and justice for your children – protecting the vulnerable from one who is misusing his power over them – is a godly thing to do.

Do they need emotional protection?
Do they need physical protection?
Do they need spiritual protection?

Your unique circumstances will require a unique response. This is why praying for wisdom is so important. God has promised to give wisdom to those who ask him, so prepare yourself for His answer. Look for the places that He might be providing information you can use to make wise decisions that will protect your children.

4. Pray that your children will understand the love of God in spite of having an imperfect earthly father.

Many children struggle to understand the love of God when their earthly father is harsh or indifferent toward them.

Yet God shows his love to people in many different ways. He can show his love to your children through you, their mother (II Timothy 1:5). He can show his love through his beautiful creation that he has given for them to enjoy (Psalm 19:1). He has given them his written word by which he reveals his love for all mankind (II Timothy 3:15). Love them, teach them who God is, and point out to them the beauty of God’s love as  shown in his creation of the world around them. Pray that they will understand who God is and that their tender hearts will not become hardened to the idea of having a relationship with him.

What if your husband is not a believer? You can pray the same prayers from this post either way. You can pray that God would draw your husband to himself, understanding that God will never force anyone to come to himself. You can pray that you would have wisdom to know what words you should or should not speak to your husband; you can pray that you will have wisdom to protect your children; and you can pray that your children will understand the love of God.

Dear Christian Mama,
I close this article with a prayer for you.
Father, I ask that you will give your wisdom to this reader. I ask that you will help her know that words she ought to say to invite her husband to a place of repentance. If her husband is willing to humbly grow in Christlikeness, I ask that you would give her a spirit of graciousness and not of criticism. If her husband is unwilling to submit to you, I ask that you would make that clear to her, and show her what she should do to protect her children's tender hearts as well as keep them physically safe. I ask that your presence would be unmistakeable in her life, that she would know your deep love for her and be able to pass it on to her children.

Wholesome Thanksgiving Books for Kids

I've always wanted to be one of those moms who is organized to have a collection of Thanksgiving books for kids ready and waiting to use during the month of November.

This year was finally that year!

I searched and curated all the best Thanksgiving kids' books for you and your children to enjoy during this Thanksgiving season. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Pro tip: If you view any of these books on Amazon using a desktop computer, you will have the option to “Look Inside.” This option is not available on mobile devices.

History of Thanksgiving
These books will introduce your children to the history behind why we celebrate Thanksgiving.

1. The First Thanksgiving
An easy reader for grades 1-3, this book is a concise history of the Pilgrim's journey to America and their first winter.

2. Squanto's Journey
A brief history of Squanto's time in Europe, and how he used his knowledge of the English language and his skills as a native American to help the Pilgrims through their first winter in America.

3. Thank you, Sarah
A silly story that introduces children to the woman who worked tirelessly to make Thanksgiving Day a national holiday. Several pages of interesting historical facts and timelines are included in the back of the book.

Modern History
These books share stories of modern immigrants, and describe their thankfulness to live in a country where they have freedom to worship God as the Pilgrims did.

4. Molly's Pilgrim
This is the story of Russian immigrants who learn about the American Thanksgiving holiday, and find that they relate to the same desire for freedom of religion that the Pilgrims had.

5. How Many Days to America
This story is about all immigrants, the difficulties they often face in their journey to America, and the thankfulness they have for the opportunity to move to a free country.

For Toddlers and Preschoolers
Of course I need to include some cute Thanksgiving picture books for the little ones!

6.Thankful Together
I especially like this one because it specifically thanks God. Many books only say “I'm thankful for ___,” but this one specifically says, “Thank you, God, for ____.”

7. Squirrel Says Thank You
This one also specifically thanks God for the blessings we have, like trees, snowflakes, and family.

Counting our Blessings
Books that will cultivate an atmosphere of gratitude in your home.

8. Thanks for Thanksgiving
Although the words are very simple, this book includes captivating, detailed artwork on each page.

9. Thankful
Another simplistic book with reminders of all the many things for which we can be thankful.

10. The Memory Cupboard
A sentimental book that reminds children that it's people and memories that are important, not things.

11. Thank you, God
This book is so beautiful and so much fun! Each page has an envelope or two containing a card of thankfulness written to God for something specific. My children really enjoy opening each envelope to find out what's written on the card inside.

Just for Fun

Reading about Thanksgiving for kids doesn't always need to be for the sake of learning. I hope your children enjoy reading just for the love of it!

12. An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving
How can you go wrong with a classic story by Lousia May Alcott?

How to purchase these Thanksgiving books for kids

Option 1: Purchase from Amazon:
You can click on any individual book above, or visit this link to see them all in one place on Amazon.

Option 2: Purchase from Book Outlet:
This is one of my favorite places to shop for books! I often find exactly the book I'm looking for at prices much less than other retailers. Go through this link to get a $5 coupon, then search for the title of the book you want. As of writing this blog post, they currently have many of the titles on the list above in stock for $2-$3 per book.

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The Morning Routine for Kids that Changed Our Days

One of the things I love about homeschooling is that our mornings feel so free and relaxed. We don't have to race to get everyone packed up and out the door for school. We can wake up slowly and enjoy our mornings together. But before I had a good morning routine for the kids, our slow and relaxed mornings could easily turn into “Not getting our homeschool day started till noon.” I don't want that! That gives everyone less time to play in the afternoon, pushes back dinner time, pushes back bed time, which means it's easier to sleep later in the morning and start the same cycle all over again.



When we all get up and going earlier, we have time to accomplish more, and spend more quality time together!


But just waking everyone up early is not enough. Before I implemented a morning routine for them, my kids would get up, wander around in their pajamas, eat something, make a mess that they didn't clean up, lay in their bed reading a book, and then when I was ready to start school for the day, I'd look around and realize that we had an hour's worth of cleaning to do because they had things strewn everywhere from their “relaxed and slow morning!”

It was stressing me out big time, and keeping us behind on everything all the time.

The thing is…kids are kids. They have to be taught. It's not enough to wake them up and tell them to get ready for the day. They need clear direction.

So I set out to make a morning routine for them that was so simple, they couldn't possibly neglect it without being outright purposely disobedient.

It was three things:


  1. Get Dressed.
  2. Read your Bible.
  3. Tidy your room.


Three things. Anyone can remember that, and it's not overwhelming at all. In fact, I adopted the exact same morning routine for myself because who doesn't want life to be simple?

I created a little chart and hung it in each of the kids' rooms so that they would have no excuse in the mornings to be wandering around, taking forever to get ready for the school day.

I also created a room cleaning checklist so they would know my definition of the phrase “tidy your room.”

I have them independently do those three things, then I prepare breakfast for everyone, and after breakfast we complete the rest of our “morning things” together as a family (cleaning up our breakfast dishes, brushing our teeth, fixing our hair, etc.)

This way, the kids are learning some independence and becoming more skilled at preparing themselves for the day without my help, but it's not so much that's it's overwhelming to them where they shut down and do nothing.


I can't begin to tell you what a difference this simple change has made for our mornings! The kids know exactly what they need to do without feeling overwhelmed. When our morning gets off to a smooth start, our whole day goes better!


Would you like to use our morning routine and room cleaning charts for your own family? (There is a whole set that matches the one shown above.) Imperfect Homemaker email subscribers have access to these charts (and many other homemaking printables!) for free!

When you subscribe, your first email will contain the password to the library of free printables.



10 Scriptural Ways to Pray for the Father of Your Children

Do you desire a deeper prayer life?  Do you know you should be praying more, but aren't quite sure what to pray for?

As father's day approaches, I've been thinking about some specific ways I can pray for my husband, the father of my children.

The more specific we are in our prayers, the more specifically God can answer them!


Coming straight from scripture, here are 10 ways to pray for your children's father:



1. Pray that he will be a man of integrity.

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (Proverbs 20:7)


2. Pray that he will teach his children gently yet faithfully.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)


3. Pray that he would encourage rather than discourage his children.

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. (Colossians 3:21)


4. Pray that he will lovingly discipline his children.

 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (Proverbs 13:24)


5.  Pray that he will teach his children the truth of God's Word.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 1:4)



6. Pray that he will train each of his children according to their unique needs. 

Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)


7. Pray that he will lead his children in serving the Lord.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)


8. Pray that he will notice opportunities through daily activities to teach his children God's Word.

 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deutoronomy 6:6-7)


9. Pray that he will be strong in the Lord and always keep his spiritual armor on.

 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:10-18)


10. Pray he will remember that his children are a blessing and a gift from God.

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3-5)


I've designed a printable that you can use with your prayer journal or as a stand-alone list.  My email subscribers have instant access to the download.



Related products you may enjoy:


6 Mistakes Christian Parents Often Make

“We're done, mom!”  Three children stand beaming at me from their version of a clean kitchen.

One glance around the room tells me they are far from done.

Now I have a choice.  Do I berate them for being lazy and doing a sloppy job?  Or do I calmly and kindly say, “Well,  I can tell you all have been working hard, but mommy's going to show you a few things that can make the kitchen even cleaner, okay?  First, you want to make sure you squeeze the water out of the cloth really hard so there won't be water dripping all over the table when you wipe it…”

I think we would all agree that it is only fair to remember that little children must be taught how to do things before they should be expected to do them the right way.

And yet, so often, we as parents forget that children are learning so many new things every day, and we could stand to cut them a little more slack.  (Read: The Thing Most Parents Forget About Their Kids)

I have noticed some additional deficiencies in Christian parenting skills that most of us could stand to improve (myself included for sure!)



1. Laziness

We've all done it.  We call our child and they don't come, so we call them again.  They still don't come.  We call a couple more times, more loudly each time, until finally they hear, “GET IN HERE, NOW!!!!”

This is often a result of our own laziness as parents. Why should our children always hold the responsibility of stopping what they're doing to come to us? Why can't we show the same respect for their time and their interests that we would show to anyone else? Would we call our spouse from across the house, expecting them to drop what they're doing to come to us immediately? Would we like it if our spouse did that to us, or would we appreciate their consideration that we might be in the middle of something?

Instead of calling for our children from across the house, expecting them to immediately stop what they're doing and come running, we can stop what we're doing and go talk to them.

This is not to say that there won't be a time and a place to call our children, just like there are times we will need to call our spouse from across the house. But we can do it in a way that treats them the way we want to be treated. Our children are not our servants.

We can have a respectful conversation when we do need to call them. “Can you come here please? I need your help with something.”

When we treat our children respectfully, showing them that their time is just as valuable as ours, they'll be less likely to buck against us when we do ask them to come help us with something.

Other ways that parents can be lazy:

-Not taking the time to proactively teach our children, then getting frustrated when we feel we are constantly having to correct them

-Not taking the time to supervise children properly, then getting irritated when they make a mess or neglect their responsibilites

-Punishing children in hopes of getting a desired result rather than connecting with them and motivating them


2. Lack of Thoughtfulness

Ephesians 6 tells children to obey their parents, but Ephesians 6 does not instruct parents to bark orders at their children.

In fact, the admonition given to parents (fathers, specifially) is to not provoke them, and to nurture them and teach them the ways of the Lord.

What tone of voice do you use when speaking to your children?  Would you speak to another adult that way?

Does “Be ye kind one to another” apply only to other adults?

Yes, we need to teach our children to obey.  But we must remember that we have other jobs besides teaching – nurturing, comforting, helping.  When too much focus is placed upon obedience, it's easy for things to get out of balance.


3. Lack of clarity

Many times as parents we expect our children to know exactly what we mean when we haven't really taught them how to do something properly.

This piggybacks on point number one, where our own laziness causes unnecessary problems in our relationship with our kids.

We tell them to clean their room, but haven't ever worked side by side with them to show them exactly what “clean your room” means. Kids are kids. They need instruction and guidance.



4. Lack of Follow-through – Ouch!  This is the area where I have the hardest time.

I tell the kids to clean their room and later see them playing.  “Did you clean your room?” I ask.  (Of course they answer yes!)  At bedtime, when I see that their room is not thoroughly clean, I get irritated because their room is a mess, but I don't want them to stay up any later to clean it.  I should have gone to check it immediately when they were finished.

When we give our kids instructions, there are 2 sides to the responsibility.  The child has a responsibility to report to complete what they've been asked to do, and the parent has the responsibility to follow-through with making sure the job is done and done correctly.


5. Forgetting that kids are kids

Sometimes we parents just plain expect too much out of kids. It is much harder to be a kid than we realize sometimes.

On the flip side, kids are pretty smart too!

We need wisdom to find that sweet spot between expecting too much or expecting too little from them.


6. Praise for a job well done

I don't know about you, but I love it when someone acknowledges my hard work, whether it was something I was supposed to do or not.

It's so nice when people notice and appreciate your hard work, and it provides motivation and energy.

Our children have emotions just like us, and we can provide so much encouragement to do right just by giving them some positive reinforcement.




It is my desire that I would become more and more acquainted with God's unconditional love for me. And as I do, I pray that his graciousness and gentleness would spill over onto my children.







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