Wednesday, April 03, 2013
I could fill this whole newsletter with the things God has been teaching me about parenting lately. Parenting is a hard, humbling, keep you on your toes adventure. I am continually challenged to lay down my own desires, wants, and ideas about how things should be done in order to be a parent. I think parenting is a beautiful amalgamation of love, frustration, joy, heartbreak, anger, disbelief and adoration. There are few relationships in life where we can be peed and pooped on, puked on, hit, pushed, kicked, yelled at, ignored, screamed at and any other thing that toddlers do and come out hugging on the other side. Children bring the best and the worst out of us and have challenged me in ways I never would have imagined. There is no doubt about it – it’s hard work.
The act of parenting is only one element of challenges, the figuring it all out is another. These days we have information coming at us from every direction telling us what is right or wrong. The information tells us what is right, wrong and how we will scar kids emotionally if we mess up. We have parenting books coming out of our ears, both affirming or dispelling what we read on blogs, on parenting websites and most of all what we have seen in our own homes. It is more than confusing. Sometimes, it is just defeating to figure out where to even start. I am a researcher. I love to read about new things and figure out how things work, why things happen and what I can do to fix whatever is broken. In parenting this is sometimes a detriment. Regardless of how many books are out there, none of them are written by me, about my family and our unique make up, background and current influences and all of the struggles and unique roads we have walked that have shaped us. How do we even begin to know which parenting books are right for us? Last summer, when I was feeling like an especially huge parenting failure, God gave me some comfort. He released me from the words of these people I didn’t know. Because, as the words echoed through my mind from some of these parenting books that I had read, He reminded me that those words are someone else’s story. Those were someone else’s experiences and children and I had to stop listening to and reading their experiences and engage and figure out my own. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time to seek help and some parenting books have great advice. But, that is all it is…advice. They aren’t manuals, even though some claim to be. The fact is that the people I know that are the best parents aren’t all following the same fad formula on parenting. They are parents who have made a lot of mistakes, have sought to know who their children are and keep moving forward after they fail. We will all fail, there is no question about it. We can’t let that be what defines our parenting style.
Personally, my parenting style has evolved tremendously over the last 10 years. There are a lot less hills to die on now than there were even 7 years ago. I am hugging my children more and disciplining them less. When I was struggling last summer it was because I was getting caught up in the failure. I was trying to fit into someone else’s box. I know for sure from the Bible that God wants me to do a few things with my kids. One, He wants me to love them like He loves me. Two, He wants me to train them up in the way they should go. (“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6) Three, He wants me to teach them about Him. Four, He doesn’t want me to hinder their way to Jesus. (But Jesus called them to him, saying “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Luke 15:16-17)