chatting over coffeeOne of my regular encouragements to new moms is to find a mom in the season just ahead of her to ask specific questions about nursing, sleep schedules, and potty training. The reason? Now that my children are in the middle years (8, 12, 15), I cannot remember most of the answers to those questions myself! I spent multiple years vacillating between sleep deprivation and morning sickness. My past mental fog leaves me unsure how many times a day I nursed my children or how long I waited before I called the doctor when they had a fever. These are details I thought I’d never forget and already they are fuzzy in my brain.

However, I also tell them it’s vitally important to have the advice and wisdom gained from moms who have spent years raising children. While they may not remember the specific details of how they got their baby to sleep through the night or what is developmentally appropriate for a 2-year-old, they are a goldmine of wisdom. As a mom of young children, I often focused so much on the momentary struggle that I didn’t take the time to ask the larger and more consequential questions of some of the older women in my life. Here are some of the questions I encourage moms of young children to ask (and the ones I’m asking the older moms in my life):

1. Spiritual Life:
How did you grow your spiritual life as a mom? When did you find time to pray and read your Bible? Were there any specific books or Bible studies that helped you grow during this time?

2. Discipline:
What did you learn about discipline and correction as you parented multiple children? How did your discipline practices grow and change throughout the years? Are there any parenting resources that were formative for you that you recommend?

3. Instruction:
How did you teach your children about God? Did you use devotional books, children’s Bibles, or catechisms to help train your children? Which ones do you recommend? How did you balance instruction with children of various ages?

4. Family Routines:
What traditions did you build as a family? What guidance can you give as I think through sports, academics, and other activities? How were these beneficial for your children? How were they problematic? How did you prioritize your marriage in these years?

5. Loving Hospitality:
What makes a home warm and inviting? How did you communicate love and affection to your children? How did you invite others into your family during this season?

6. Service:
In what ways did you serve in your church and community in these years? How did you balance commitments outside the home with family commitments? What principles helped you discern between when to sacrificially say “Yes” and when to wisely say “No”? How did motherhood allow you opportunities to share your faith with others?

7. Perspective:
Looking back, what’s one thing you’re glad you did with your children? Is there anything you regret being overly concerned about during these years? Is there something you wish someone had told you as you began the mothering journey?

Find an older woman you trust (Titus 2:3) and ask for her guidance and wisdom. While every woman may not feel comfortable teaching a parenting class to a large group, many would love to chat about these questions over a warm cup of coffee. And she’d probably welcome a morning holding a baby on her lap while the two of you chat. My arms are always baby-ready.