The Unseen Years



We recently participated in a silent, prayerful, smiling protest. We used our rights and stood for life. It was our first time to participate, and we decided to go on the spur of the moment.

Of course we talked expectations as we drove to the protest, brought snacks for the 2-year-old to enjoy during the event, and had a couple instances of reminding the kids that it wouldn’t be all day. But on the whole, they went along cheerfully with the spontaneously-chosen plan of the morning.

It occurred to me, though, that the only reason we could make it work is because of the “10,000 hours” we’ve spent training them in contentment, obedience, willing hearts, the norm of going along with what mom and dad have on the agenda for the day, and self-control.

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Kids don’t just wake up eager to go stand in one place for an hour and a half on a blustery morning.

It is the result of a thousand unseen moments, hundreds of unseen interactions.

Sometimes as young moms, we can be tempted to jump to the further-ahead steps, without doing the hard work that lays the foundation for those future steps.

We may say we want a teen with a willing, servant-like, contented heart, yet we are unwilling to do the daily work with our toddler to teach the foundations for self-control, contentment with little, and a yielded heart that goes along with mom and dad’s plans. The child who whines and complains and drags his feet, or who only obeys when he desires and can choose his way into something mom’s ok with, does not magically turn into a teen with a willing, winsome spirit.

We may say we want a young adult who is not obsessed with video games, who knows how to converse with others and work hard, who prioritizes family and the Word of God in his life… but is that what we’re truly building?

We need to get in the habit of asking:

What is the likely place we’ll end up if we follow the current road we’re on?


Mother of young children, can I ask you to take a hard look at your children and see what the root beliefs are, inside your children?

  • Do they believe they must obey, or do they balk and complain?
  • Are they growing in self-control or in self-demands?
  • Do they– from the heart– go along with your plans or do they need coaxing and contriving and pleading and pressure in order to (at least outwardly) do what you say?
  • Are they convinced the world revolves around them, or are they learning to find their place in the larger story of what God is doing around them?
  • Do they understand that they are under authority, or do they see self as the ultimate authority?

Consider these things carefully. Project forward the attitudes of your children, and see where you are leading them.

“Ponder the path of your feet.” ~Proverbs 4:26



Would you be willing to share– are you regularly thinking ahead in the way you mother your children? In what ways do you “think ahead” and “ponder the path of your feet” in parenting?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast ( I write and wrangle kids.

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6 Responses

  1. Rachel says:

    So awesome! I see this all the time. Or people that assume that my well-behaved children are the result of luck. “Oh, you’re so lucky. Your kids listen so well.” No, it’s the result of a ton of hard work and diligence. And a good diet (home cooked food, a sugar/additive watching-Nazi mom, vitamins for lacks, notice to food allergies, etc.) and a faithful bedtime.

    • Jess Connell says:

      The “you’re so lucky; your kids are so easy” comments are the worst. It demeans a mother’s loving consistency and tenacious diligence as unnecessary and without effect. Such a lie!

      What a lie the feminist movement has spoken: that there is no effect one way or the other, no matter a mother’s choices.

      Young mother out there reading this, don’t believe it!

  2. Kelly Foster says:

    Great Post! We recently started sponsoring a young girl through Compassion International hoping it would help our seemingly never-ending conversations about being grateful to God for what He’s blessed us with . Our 6 & 4 year old girls’ first responses were less than encouraging to say the least. We were inundated with questions like “Why do we have to help” and “Will we have to give our toys to her”; realizing this too was a spiritual battle, we went before the Lord in prayer. It’s been two months now and our girls have made a complete 180. Now they ask almost daily about how our sponsored child is doing, if they can send her things, and most of all they pray for her daily without being prompted or coerced. It’s nothing but the power of prayer and God’s will for His people to care for the needs of others that has blessed us to see such change in them. I can not take the credit but I’m glad to be on the right track towards shaping my children into vessels to be used by God. Thanks!

  3. Deanna says:

    Yes!!! I agree!!! Sadly, we don’t see many parents that “like” their teenagers, or many teens that “like” their parents. Consistency is key…and showering them with love. Starting young and not stopping in the teen years. We have 7 children, the youngest just turned 14, the oldest is 24, and they are all blessings! They are respectful and obedient, they are kind and loyal, they are faithful and diligent. That did not happen on accident! We poured our time and energy into training them and loving them. We have invested our lives in them and are reaping the benefits…it is well worth it!
    Having children should be a blessing not a trial!
    I love your articles, Jess…keep sharing!

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