MENTORING AND STAY-AT-HOME MOMS

December 2, 2012

MENTORING AND STAY-AT-HOME MOMS

 

Let’s say you really like the idea of mentoring–either facilitating or receiving- -but you’re thinking, “I am a mom with little children.  I’d love to be involved, but what am I going to do with my children?”  If you have thoughts like those, then I’m glad you have chosen to read this blog.  I have some ideas that might help you or perhaps inspire you to create your own.  God gave you your child/children.  He has the way that will work for you to receive what you need.  I’ve made a list that you can read through, at the end of this article, and see what might work for you.  But, first there are some things I want to encourage you to keep in mind.
Having realistic expectations are going to be important.  As a mom, especially of  young children, you won’t have long segments of time to work with.  Generally, you will have bits of time throughout the day.  Maximizing the bits will be helpful for you.  Learning to be content with that will go a long way.

You are only a mom for a short time in the grand scheme of things.  There will come a day when you can spend all of the time you want in the Word, and in being involved with mentoring relationships in some capacity.  For now, your children are your priority.  Actually, as a parent, you are their mentor.  As they grow and become more independent, other mentors will be involved in their lives.

Unless you are new to an area, or you live isolated, think about other women you might already know or like to get to know. Are there any other young moms that you know who live near you?  Perhaps you attend the same church?  If you attend a gym, as an example, have you met any other moms there?   Who might you know already, or who might you like to get-to-know better?

Starting with just a couple of other women is ideal.  When children are included, there will be a high level of potential distractions.  If you have never done anything like this, then my suggestion would be to just invite one mom, and her child/children.  Since your kids are going to be playing together, they’ll need to get to know each other, too.  Keep these times simple, and see how things go. If you feel like God is saying to keep going, then  after a while, the two of you can think of another or couple of moms to invite, and repeat what you already did with each other

If you already have someone, or a few women in mind, you can talk to them about getting together and see who might like the idea of getting together more regularly and formulate a plan for doing so.

Since you are “moms”, flexibility is going to be important to keep in mind.  Keeping things relaxed and informal will also help keep things light.  Since children do unexpected things, the less stressful the environment, and the lower the expectations for executing the plans to at “T”, will be important to keep in mind.

Within Home groups, a sense of community can be built.  It’s like an extended family.Relationships with adult to adult, child to child, and adult to child can be formed more easily in a relaxed setting.  These relationships and bonds that form that can last a lifetime.  Keeping this “family” concept in mind can help those who participate become much more comfortable.  Keeping things simple and “real” will go a long way in helping people eventually feel they can begin to open up, or be more transparent. These community groups help get the concepts of God out of the Bible, and into our everyday experience.

Please keep in mind that the goal for any group leader/mentor is to keep the group safe.  People need to feel they are in a safe place before they will open up and become vulnerable. It is a huge honor when someone feels safe enough to open up to you.  Respecting the person(s) by maintaining confidentiality is extremely important.  Gossip kills trust!  Value trust, and encourage it in the very early stages of getting to know people.

There are all kinds of ways to get together.  There is no one-size-fits-all.  Remember, also, that your children are going to be a part of this experience.  You’re planting into them a taste for liking or not liking going places to talk about God.  Associations are made early in life.  Plant the idea that God is FUN while they are small.

Consider places/activities that are enjoyable for the kids.  Places and ideas that don’t take lots of prep work, supervision, or clean-up, when possible are good options.  Keep in mind, too, the ages and abilities of the children to avoid frustration for them and for you.  Let them have some time to work out some of their wiggles, and have their fun. It’ll help them be more likely to do what you need them to, later, rather than the reverse.  Work with their wiggles. You can relax, after all you are with other moms.

For the Bible study portion of your time together, keeping this time short and more to the point, allowing for some discussion is a good way to plan.  You might think along the lines of more of a ‘devotional’ style.  One mom can be designated as the “Mom-in-Charge” if any child needs attention during the discussion, and prayer/ministry time.  Each week a different “mom” can fulfill this role, so no mom misses every time.

For the purpose of giving you some ideas, I’ve listed some things I have done, below.  Please feel encouraged to adapt any of these to your situation, or use them as inspiration for your own ideas. Every group is going to have its own unique characteristics  due to the personalities and gifts each person brings into the mix.

  • I met other women with their children at a local park.  We each brought a snack or lunch for our own family. After the we ate, while the children played, we moms sat nearby and had our “Bible/Prayer” time..  Babies were on blankets near the moms while the toddlers played in the sand or on the park toys.  Occasionally, the moms would have to get up, leave the group of women, tend to their child/children, and return.  Remember, flexibility is important.  This is the life of a mom with younger children.
  • I also met with women, and their children in homes.  Sometimes we rotated homes.  Sometimes, a certain woman would prefer using her home.  Just find what works without taxing anyone’s energy.  At a home, our time was usually planned to coordinate with some play time, lunch, and nap time,depending on the ages of the children. .
  • Sometimes, one or another of us would suggest situations we were dealing with and wanted to apply Biblical knowledge, understanding to that situation.  We would look at related Scriptures. One or a few of us would share what ‘we’ were doing that might help someone with questions.  Other times, we’d have a short devotional, or someone would share what God had revealed to her as she read a passage. We’d share what we saw in that passage with each other.  We’d pray for one another and our families.
  •  If you are a home educating mom, like I was, then you may have older children that you would be bringing with you.  Incorporating them, as appropriate, is a great way to help them feel a part of the community.  God works in and  through our children, too.  I have been blessed many times by the words or comfort of a child
  • One group Bible focus centered around canning jars of jelly.  We moms met and brought kitchen items that would be needed and worked out the fruit purchase for the jelly ahead of time.  As was safe for the children and appropriate, we let them help with the various stages.  As we sterilized the jars, rings, and lids we shared with them what Paul explains in Ephesians 1:13- 14,“When you heard the true teaching–the Good News about your salvation–you believed in Christ.  And, in Christ, God put his special mark of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit that He had promised.  That Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive what God has promised for His people until God gives full freedom to those who are His–to bring praise to God’s glory.”  The children (and we moms too!) could see the clean jars being filled with jelly (picture of the Holy Spirit) and as the jar lids went on and the jars cooled, the children could see the indentation of the jar lids to indicate they were, indeed, sealed, keeping out bacteria and germs.  Though the jar might get into messy situations, the jelly and inside of the jar was never contaminated.   The special memories of our families coming together doing something practical and Spiritual are still with all of us today.
  • Children are going to be “wiggly”, and not always cooperative with the “plan.”  Learning to work with the wiggles is another important factor so you can stay in peace.  Depending on the age of the child, they can sit next to you, and color.  Playing with blocks or puzzles is another option. If age appropriate, they can play in a nearby room where you can see them and hear what’s being shared.  An older child can “babysit” them nearby.  They can be great “helpers” for the younger children so the mom doesn’t have to get up and down so often.  Rotations among the moms can be done, so no mom misses every time, if that is needed or helpful.  Loving the women and responding to legitimate needs is  mentoring.  Mentoring is for real LIFE.  We live in the real world.  People need to learn skills on many levels  for practical day-to-day life.   Mentoring helps give Life to theology.

These are informal times of getting together.  I gave you the mental picture of a “family” as something to use for reference.  When you are with other moms, encourage each other to just be free to do whatever needs to be done.  There will be plenty of time to train the children in age-appropriate behaviors.  Love and patience will be required.  Paying attention to real needs, offering lots of love and encouragement along the way, go a long way.  So much is caught when we gather together.  I’ve learned many things in my life by simply watching how another person does things.  God speaks to us in ways we don’t realize, or we take for granted.  I want to encourage you not to underestimate how powerful it is to share your life with another.  Focusing on form, and too many guidelines can cause you to miss out on wonderful teachable moments.

©Vanetta Stephens

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