Do you ever wish you could sit down with a parent who is more experienced than you…
and ask the hard questions?
Take in their wisdom?
Learn from their mistakes?
Soak up their encouragement?
Charley’s Circus was born alongside the beginning of our family as we set out to document our journey of intentional parenthood.
Our heart is to raise beautiful little people with an awareness of their Creator, a deep confidence in how much they are loved, and limitless possibilities with what they can accomplish as world-changers.
But how do we even do those things? How do we give them what they need? Cultivate kind and generous hearts? Train them up as leaders dependent on their Heavenly Father? How do we face the current challenges of the world while raising these precious little souls?
At Charley’s Circus, we deeply value intentional parenting and look up to parents who have gone before us and have raised incredible kids. We believe that we can learn so much from experienced parents, especially those who love Jesus and value raising children in a Christ-centered home.
Thanks to a handful of absolutely amazing parents we look up to, we’re sharing with our readers – in a series of interviews – that sit-down heart-to-heart honest conversation that so many of us wish we could have. We’re bringing the wisdom, the heart, and the encouragement to you!
When we grow from children to adults and then have our own children, we may decide to do things similarly as our parents, or completely different. We have the freedom to do things our own way, but we also don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We don’t have to grasp blindly in the dark. There are others – many, many others – who have gone before us and have wisdom to share. We can take or leave anything we choose. But hopefully we walk away with this most beautiful reminder – in this parenting journey, the small moments add up – and they matter.
Allow me to introduce our next World-Changing Parent, Nichole!
Nichole and Jim have been married for 38 years and have two daughters (Lindsey age 35 and Lacey age 29), two sons-in-love (better than in-law, BJ and Josh) and four grandkids! Nichole has worked both full- and part-time in administrative type positions since 1976, and Jim is a District Service Manager, working from their home. That’s been a blessing in many ways, and has prepared them for retirement when they’ll be together non-stop (what they’ve been told!). They make their home in a suburb of St. Louis, MO, and half of their family lives in Kansas City. Nichole knows I-70W like it’s her neighborhood and could drive it with a blindfold! They raised their girls to know and love Jesus, and pray every day for their beautiful kids and grandkids to know His love, grace, and mercy.
1. What is your favorite thing about being a parent?
The love that has grown through the years between my girls and me. Being their friend as an adult is the most precious gift I’ve been given.
2. What was your favorite thing about being a parent when your children were really small?
Definitely the snuggles, hugs, and kisses given so freely! Each day brought a new challenge and outlook as the world is fresh and full of endless possibilities through a child’s eyes.
3. What do you miss the most?
I hate to sound like a broken record, but I do miss those cuddles and snuggles. That’s where grandkids come in so beautifully! They are just as eager to lavish love on us, and are genuinely thrilled to see us.
4. What kinds of traditions or daily habits did you incorporate to teach your children about Jesus?
We attended church together on Sundays, and if there were mid-week services or special meetings, we made every effort to be there. We ate dinner together, prayed before each meal, and at bedtime. During any situation that would require wisdom, guidance, etc. I would pray for my girls; and in turn, they continue to reach out to me in their adult years and ask that I pray for or with them.
5. There is so much junk out there that can be harmful to the hearts and minds of our kids. We often can’t even watch a sporting event on TV without a commercial that’s unsuitable for a small child popping up. What are your thoughts about protecting your children’s hearts from the evil of the world while simultaneously knowing we are also called to equip them to push back and fight against this darkness? What practical steps did you take?
We are in this world, but not of it. We taught our girls about the evils of this world at the age appropriate time, which is different for every child depending on maturity, understanding, etc. While waiting for the appropriate time, we guided them as best we could to make wise decisions regarding friendships since they are so influential. At times, that meant saying “no” and letting them know they could “blame” us for not attending the party, going to the concert, having a sleepover at a home where you don’t know the parents, telling them to call us at any time of the day or night if they felt uncomfortable in a situation. We would explain why a certain book, song, movie, commercial (I don’t think there were many inappropriate in those days!) wasn’t honoring to the Lord. Find that scripture and show them! Children are much more aware and can comprehend more than adults realize.
6. How did you teach your kids about “tough topics” and encourage them to choose family values instead of following cultural norms?
I was always very honest with my girls… maybe to a fault… but I told them every mistake I made in hopes that they wouldn’t follow in my/our footsteps. I kept myself available for them and their friends if they needed to talk, a ride, a meal, stay the night. I have a nurturing nature and have always been a good listener, thus earning myself the nickname “mamaschwep” from one of Lindsey’s high school friends. If parents are consistent in living out their lives with Godly family values, along with open and honest communication, I believe children will see the value in family as opposed to doing “what everyone else is doing.”
7. What are some of the greatest differences that you see in our culture today that affect the way that parents raise their children versus when your children were little?
The internet, social media, cell phones, etc. are all new since our girls were small. We had dial up service when Lindsey was a teenager, and she got her first cell phone when she began driving. Lacey got her first phone at the age of 12. There was very little texting, no sending pics, videos, etc. My parents always said they couldn’t imagine raising kids during the years that our kids were little, and I feel the same way now. There is much more culturally acceptable compared to when our girls were small, which opens the door for a variety of discussions. Wisdom and discernment are vital for parents.
8. What do you think is the greatest challenge parents of young children today face when raising their children?
Thanks to the internet, it’s the multitude of advice, opinions, and suggestions that bombard parents daily. There are times that I’m envious of everything that’s available in an instant. When we raised our girls, it was a phone call to my mom, sister, sister-in-law, or a trusted friend for some advice or tips on how to handle “xyz.” Today’s young parents sift through Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and on and on leaving themselves open to comparison and possible feelings of insecurity and doubt. I find that overwhelming, and I believe others do, too.
9. What are some things you are really proud of as a parent? What do you feel like you have done well?
Our girls are both beautiful hearted women who give of themselves freely to those around them. They are excellent moms and wives, and I really couldn’t be more proud of them. I consider both of them my best friend; each brings something different to our relationship, and I’d rather be with them than anyone else (besides Jim)! I believe that transparency is key to developing and maintaining strong relationships with our children… AND, we love to laugh together and act goofy.
10. What are you looking forward to as your kids get older?
I’m there!! Our girls are adults with families of their own; we get together as much as possible, talk, play, create, FaceTime, spend holidays and special occasions together, and just live life as a family. My heart is full and happy when all the people I love are in one place. God created us to be in relationship and it’s beautiful when we live it out.
11. Any other encouragement for parents of small children or future parents?
Parenting is like a wave pool. There are those times when you’re riding high, the waves are carrying you and you’re on top of the world (ocean, pool, etc. ), then the water gets sucked away, you sink, and feel like you may drown… only to be buoyed back up again!