Be the Best Mom You Can Be: A Practical Guide to Raising Whole Children in a Broken Generation

Be the Best Mom You Can Be: A Practical Guide to Raising Whole Children in a Broken Generation

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Overview

What if you could sit down with a wise, experienced mom—someone who has dealt with her child being bullied, who has seen the impact of permissiveness, who has been forced to depend on God for every single day, and still talks with grace and compassion?

Marina Slayton can tell you how to write a life-changing vision statement with your family, how to break the cycle of generational sin, and why you don’t have to measure up to society’s oftentimes impossible expectations because she has lived it with her family of six. And with every move across the country and every illness, she has known a little deeper in her bones what it means to rely on the only trustworthy source of life, the true secret to healthy motherhood: Jesus Christ.

Godly mothers have never been more crucial.

In an age when brokenness abounds and cultural voices only add to the confusion, many parents—and children—feel lost.

How can we avoid the pitfalls of a secular culture?

How do we raise children who are healthy emotionally and spiritually?

What if we’re doing it wrong?

Wise counsel from a friendly corner is desperately needed.

Marina Slayton has spent the past thirty years walking with God and raising four kids. From California to Bermuda, from public school to homeschool, Slayton has been there, and she’s not afraid to share her mistakes, epiphanies, and practical ideas. But she doesn’t stop there. Chapter by chapter, Slayton, together with her husband Gregory, demonstrates how the power of God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit can give direction and freedom to parents who need it most. These are the real keys to being the best mom you can be.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718022143
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 04/14/2015
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Gregory Slayton is a venture capitalist and visiting professor at several Ivy League universities. He and his wife have been married for more than twenty-four years and raised four children. They live in Hanover, New Hampshire.

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Be The Best Mom You Can Be

A Practical Guide to Raising Whole Children in a Broken Generation


By Marina Slayton, Gregory W. Slayton

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2015 Gregory W. Slayton and Marina Slayton
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7180-2214-3



CHAPTER 1

A Wise Mom: Love Is the Foundation


Why start with love? Because we know that our children are growing up in a world that is increasingly devoid of affirming, life-giving love. After more than thirty-five years of walking in faith, I appreciate ever more deeply how profoundly rich are the tenets of our faith. We need to draw from these bedrock truths as we confront the challenges facing families today. Let us begin by reminding ourselves what the apostle John wrote to a mother almost two thousand years ago: "I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love" (2 John 1:5–6). How wonderful it is to be ministers of love to our children, just as He ministers to us in love. The more I go on in faith, the more I realize the beautiful simplicity of our walk with Jesus.

However, there is a crisis of love in this generation. We all recognize what has become a sadly pervasive truth: many parents don't feel love themselves and many families today are not able to show their own kids the love and guidance they so desperately need. As Leo Tolstoy wrote in his famous opening line in Anna Karenina: "All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." This holds true today: love is the basis of every happy family. Obviously, expressions of love run the gamut, but in a happy family each family member knows that through the dramas and joys of life, he or she is loved.

My mom saw her life in the context of her own pain and suffering. A survivor of World War II and German concentration camps, she carried even deeper emotional wounds of rejection from when her father abandoned her mother and herself for a life of amusement and pleasure. My husband's family background was similarly complicated.

The Lord, in bringing Gregory and me together, demonstrated that He is more than able to build strong families even when we carry heavy burdens of family brokenness. We are examples that our heavenly Father can make families and marriages whole no matter what. God took a real risk in bringing the two of us together. On paper, we seemed a perfect match, with similar educational backgrounds. But internally we are both extremely sensitive to rejection and hurt. The fact that the Lord has worked in us to create a strong and happy family is a testimony to the fact that He is able to redeem anyone.

God's call to us is this: Let Me minister to you My love. This is where we find wholeness and peace. Stop looking to the world for validation because ultimately it is transitory and dissatisfying. The Lord taught me that we can all be freed from past broken behavior. We can gain the strength to create healthy, happy families. We do not have to cave into the cultural pressures of our age. We do not have to fear making a decision because we are not sure of what to do next. Our journey begins by looking to God to guide us to the healing answers that give our lives meaning, love, and belonging. These, in turn, give us purpose and vision.


Love as the Foundation

Before I became a Christian, I used the word love to justify relationships that were not healthy. I looked for love in places I should not, and I see now that I was looking for ways to satisfy the emptiness in me. I wanted to move from the ordinary to the extraordinary, and love gave me a feeling of transcendence that I so desired in a temporal world. And because I had not felt loved and protected in my childhood, I searched for love and made it my idol. I did not even understand what I meant by love because of my brokenness.

In my relationships prior to my marriage, I kept looking for validation through love. I eventually realized that while love may feel like sweetness and light at the start, over time it becomes a matter of discipline in the face of the difficult and the mundane. Like many in our culture, I idolized love in a dangerous way. I aspired to a Hollywood-type romantic love, not realizing the unrealistic promises of this media-inspired goal. Worshipping love is a cruel taskmaster because love becomes disposable when it no longer satisfies. I wanted a dream, but every time I entered a relationship I ended up with a human being.

This is not the biblical understanding of love at all. Before Gregory, none of my romantic relationships could withstand the impact of reality. Fortunately God showed me compassion, and through the work of the Holy Spirit I learned to practice love even when my feelings were not falling into line. True love, I came to realize, has to be tied to a worldview higher than myself. It must be cultivated and outwardly practiced so that it survives even when immediate satisfaction is not evident. I also realized that my heart was not the unending source of love I needed it to be. It became clear that I required a source for the love I could not supply from within.

Just as with a lack of oxygen, we cannot survive without love. But oxygen has a source, as does love. Do you have a source of love that you can go to and draw from on a regular basis? Moms have at the ready an eternal and unlimited source of love that we can draw on whenever we need more in our own lives. This love in turn can flow to those who depend on us. This is where our faith as Christians is so valuable. Ultimately we can love others because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Do you know that you are loved and cherished? The strength and knowledge that this brings will give us the ability to weather the struggles of mothering. When I glimpsed the depth of Jesus' love for me, my brokenness was shattered and He could begin the redeeming healing so necessary in my life. His love supplies and feeds my great love for my family.


Love as Redeemer

As moms, love is something that is in our power to give, and it is what our children yearn for every day. The single greatest gift that you give your children is to love them; they will continuously draw from this well as they grow and mature. If you poison this well with anger, bitterness, manipulation, or any number of toxins arising from your own brokenness, you will only perpetuate that same brokenness in their lives. But our God is the Redeemer whose heart is to save and heal all those who come to Him.

Our heavenly Father wants His people to experience redemption through healing and wholeness. That is possible for us all because of His love.

The basis of the Christian faith is that "God is love" (1 John 4:8). Man and woman in the Garden of Eden were expressions of His love. But through disobedience, humanity went into exile from the loving and holy presence of God. Sin cannot exist in the presence of a holy God. We cannot relate to God on our own terms. Ultimately, it is only through the loving atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, who bore our transgressions on the Cross at Calvary, that we can be reconciled to our eternal Father and brought into His eternal family: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

I had no problems recognizing I was a sinner. I know some struggle over the issue of sin but perhaps being raised by perfectionist parents ironically served a higher purpose in my life. What I could not envision was how to get from who I was to who I wanted to be. But God could, and He has done a great work in me and in my family. He can do that for you as well.

Whether you are in a family filled with faith, or quite the opposite, it is essential that you practice the discipline of love. A mom gets up at night to feed a crying baby, brushes her child's teeth before her own, spends years being a taxi driver (without tips), and becomes an academic tutor for decades. A wife and mom must take care of the home, cultivate her relationship with her husband, and then work on her own life. That's the core of motherhood: sacrificial love. It is beautiful and powerful. But it is not easy.


A Well of Forgiveness

Love is an invaluable source of forgiveness: "Love covers over a multitude of sins" (1 Pet. 4:8). Our love for our families is a well of forgiveness. We are called to forgive regardless, but if we cultivate love we will forgive with freedom. Loving fully means that we give our children the sense of belonging and security they crave no matter their response. Love takes the shortcomings of others and releases God's power within us to forgive and even to bless. Love is the bedrock of all happy families.

Gloriously, Jesus tells us that our heavenly Father is Love. This is hard to fully fathom, but it's not just that our Father loves us; He is Love. All of us who need a fresh touch of love can meditate on the truth that our God is Love. So if you need more love in your life, ask Him to give you more. He appreciates it when His children ask for good gifts to be used to bless others.

What happens when we as parents choose not to follow the challenging but eternally rewarding path of love? The following poignant story will serve to illustrate the destruction that comes to a family that allows selfish tendencies to supplant sacrifice and love.

Our daughter attended a very competitive private school. Every year this school sent an incredible number of its students to all the best colleges. Yet my husband and I found that for all the great academics, the prevailing atmosphere of materialistic consumption was difficult to deal with. As parents we tried hard to help our kids understand that life is not about having things but about faith.

Extreme affluence, however, was not the most challenging aspect of life in this school; rather, it was the rampant self-centeredness of many busy parents that led them to effectively abandon their kids. This is especially painful for teenagers, as they are highly unlikely to make a fuss or ask directly for help. That makes it easy for overly busy parents to emotionally abandon their teens. But parents are very much needed in the challenging teen years. It was so sad to see bright and talented ten-year-olds become surly, seen-it-all, dispirited sixteen-year-olds. Drug abuse and depression, even suicides, were far too common.

Kyra was my daughter Sasha's best friend from grades six through eight. Kyra entered sixth grade with a cheerful demeanor and beautiful long blonde hair. Her father was rarely around, but her mother was a stunning woman who seemed to have a perpetual smile. After several years in Palo Alto, we moved back to the East Coast in order to reverse certain negative patterns we had noted in our daughter. As we will discuss later in the book, changing your family's setting and subculture can be a wise parental strategy if your children are being overwhelmed by a negative or self-destructive situation.

In any event, Sasha was very lonely at our new home in Virginia, and she wanted to invite Kyra to visit for Christmas. We acceded to her wishes, confident that no mom would allow her only daughter of fourteen to be away for all of the Christmas holiday. Imagine our surprise when I spoke with Kyra's mom and found she was not only willing but enthusiastic about Kyra coming to stay with us for the entire Christmas holiday. Kyra stepped off the plane having chopped off her glorious butter-colored hair and dyed it black. Kyra suddenly appeared hard and much older.

It was not a successful visit because Sasha, under the influence of her sad and angry friend, grew whiny and bitter. I am ashamed to say it, but I was relieved when Kyra flew home. Several months later Sasha came into our kitchen crying. Kyra's parents had called a family meeting. They sat Kyra and her older brother on the sofa and said, "Kids, we have a problem. We are getting a divorce and neither one of us wants to take either one of you." Gregory and I had long sensed all was not right in Kyra's family but their blatant disregard of the kids' needs and feelings shocked us to the core. We could only imagine the devastating impact it must have had on Kyra and her brother.

Sasha wanted to know if we could take Kyra. Of course we said yes, but we felt real internal tension. While we wanted to be loving and kind to our daughter's friend, we also wanted to be wise for our entire family. Ultimately we were responsible for Sasha and her brothers first and foremost. We believe 1 Corinthians 15:33: "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'" Kyra's negative influence on my daughter was sadly evident, and we would not be able to protect Sasha if Kyra lived with us. But how could we reject a rejected child?

Ultimately, Kyra went to live with her grandmother. Today she is knocking around various cities, never having finished college, still looking for a place to belong.

Every child wants to know that he or she belongs. The root in belongs is longs; every child longs to be at the center of his or her mom's and dad's hearts. This is key to every child. But Kyra, like many children today, was not given a sense of belonging. Instead, she was given a sense of rejection. This is a burden that no human being should have to bear.

We did take active steps to respond to Sasha's sense of isolation in Virginia. We developed a riding program through a local show barn. Sasha started to take weekly singing lessons with a fabulous teacher. Most importantly, Sasha and I spent a lot of time together. We shopped in old-town Alexandria, went to wonderful restaurants, and took long walks together. I had quite a bit to do that year: relocate our family of six, finish a major renovation in our new home, and then organize our family's move to Bermuda. All this with a three-year-old joined at the hip. But it was a joy to be my daughter's best friend that year—when she needed it most.


Focusing on Love

Love kept me focused on the most important element of our lives: our family. As moms, we must never forget that our kids are given to us for a finite period of time. While we can, we need to nurture and love them as much as possible. In doing so, we give our children the gift of knowing they are truly and richly loved.

The days of childhood will come to an end before we know it. There is no substitute for time; we all know this. But the tyranny of the trivial can drown out what we most need to do. It is not easy, but it is necessary to sacrifice the busy for the important. I have needed lots of discernment in this area of life, but I have never regretted that I gave up many personal pursuits for an extended period of my life. This has been for the greater good of my family. Now that my children no longer require the same level of custodial care, my life is establishing an entirely different rhythm.

Children are born with an innate ability to look for love in the right place: their parents. But if we reject our own children, what will they do as teens and adults? They will seek love in all the wrong places. Kids are not fooled. They can discern when the people who are supposed to love them most do not.

Second Timothy 3:1–2 reflects the prevailing culture in America: "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self" (ESV). Parents who cannot keep their own selfish interests in check make family life very painful. Sadly, my family saw this same pattern repeated multiple times in Silicon Valley, in Bermuda, and in Hanover, New Hampshire, where our middle son went to a well-regarded and competitive high school. The rising tide of parental neglect and abandonment contributed to suicides and attempted suicides in all three localities.

In the early 1990s, I cofounded with Rebecca White the first Mothers' Group for Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City. Rebecca and I were enthusiastic young moms with very young children. We decided to bring together like-minded young moms in order to build community in highly fragmented Manhattan. Besides holding weekly meetings, we hosted monthly talks given by respected, experienced moms with older children. These talks provided our group with much needed advice and counsel. Kathy Keller, the wife of Tim Keller, the head pastor of Redeemer, graciously came to speak to us one Tuesday morning in May. Kathy and Tim actually lived a few floors above us in our apartment building on Roosevelt Island—a divine coincidence for Gregory and me in many ways.

As we drove from our apartment building to the Upper West Side church where our group met, Kathy and I got into an interesting conversation about children. Kathy has three sons and is deeply committed to her family. At the time, my daughter Sasha was only six months old and I was quite an anxious mother. Kathy mentioned that Tim still mentored doctoral students at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Tim was working with one PhD student who wanted to answer the critical question of why children of Christian parents choose to embrace or reject Christianity as adults. After years of research, the doctoral student came to the conclusion that there was one overwhelming factor in why children decide to become and stay Christians: they feel loved by their parents. This insight has had a truly profound impact on my parenting. Love makes the biggest impact on our children's lives.

As moms, I believe we should all memorize the powerful verses of 1 Corinthians 13 because they not only describe love but also illustrate its actions:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.... And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Be The Best Mom You Can Be by Marina Slayton, Gregory W. Slayton. Copyright © 2015 Gregory W. Slayton and Marina Slayton. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword Cathy McMorris Rodgers ix

Introduction xiii

1 A Wise Mom: Love Is the Foundation 1

2 A United Family: Building Belonging 15

3 The Importance of Vision: Thriving Families 29

4 Breaking Generational Curses: Wholeness Is Possible 43

5 Moms Are Not Perfect: That Never Was the Goal 61

6 Harvard Versus Heaven: Start with Eternity in Mind 79

7 Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll: Answering Tough Questions 101

8 Encouragement: It's a Discipline 125

9 The Three Cs of Motherhood: Communication, Collective Wisdom, and Community 141

10 Parenting in the Age of Busy: Time Is Our Friend 159

11 Wisdom for Single Moms: Hope Is Available 175

12 Working Moms: Excellence, Not Success 189

13 Dynamic Moms: A Spirit-Led Ministry 211

Acknowledgments 225

Notes 227

About the Authors 231

Index 233

Scripture Index 241

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

'My dear friends Marina and Gregory Slayton have written an international bestseller for dads; Be a Better Dad Today has sold more than 150,000 copies worldwide in just three years. But this next book for moms may be even better. Written primarily by Marina who has both researched the subject carefully and has more than twenty-five years as a mother of four great kids, this is a wonderful book for all moms who are looking for the wisdom, the faith, and the strength they need to be the best moms they can be.

This is a beautiful book written from the heart, showing moms how a life lived in Christ can heal and transform all that goes before it. This book will help moms and dads to raise stronger, wiser, and more virtuous children. I highly recommend this great work.'

---Fr. Jonathan Kalisch, OP
Priest in Residence, Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, DC -- Jonathan Kalisch

'Marina and Gregory Slayton have written a great book for moms. Be the Best Mom You Can Be will help mothers of all types to raise up their families in healthy and positive ways despite all the craziness in the world around us. I heartily recommend this book for moms and even for dads who want to help their wives to be the best moms they can be.'

---Eric Metaxas, New York Times best-selling author of Miracles and Bonhoeffer -- Eric Metaxas

'The challenges facing today’s families are substantial. We moms must face those challenges head on with wisdom, love, and joy. Marina and Gregory Slayton bring more than twenty-five years of wisdom, love, and joy to this great book, which will be a blessing to every mom who reads it. Building on Gregory’s international bestseller Be a Better Dad Today, Be the Best Mom You Can Be is a wonderful book for all of us twenty-first century moms.'

---US Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) -- Kelly Ayotte

“I'm so pleased that Marina and Gregory have written a book for moms. Their new book will help moms – and dads – raise children who are ready for the challenges of today’s world. There’s nothing more joyful and nothing more challenging than parenting. They give all of us a gift of pure wisdom.'

Roma Downey
Producer, Actress
President, LightWorkers Media -- Roma Downey

'I love this book! It is exactly what today's moms need to tackle the real issues we face. Marina and Gregory help us apply biblical wisdom to specific, real-life situations. An excellent, timely book. Highly needed and strongly recommended.' -- Leslie Parrott

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Be the Best Mom You Can Be: A Practical Guide to Raising Whole Children in a Broken Generation 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
HPedersen More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book on parenting. It's not your typical run of the mill book that focuses on what style of parenting is best. Rather, Slayton uses Biblical truths, personal experiences, and stories to share the importance of motherhood.
LivingaFitandFulllife More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book and guide to be the best mom that I can be! I love Marina Slayton's honesty about real life experiences her children and her children's friends have faced in our ever changing world. This book has real life lessons to help mothers raise their children with real life challenges and issues. This book is written from Marina's heart and is open and honest. I highly recommend this book to all mothers. Disclosure: I received product(s) for free, in exchange for my honest review. I only recommend products I've used personally, and believe will be good fit for consumers.