To all the parents who are just about to lose it… Take a minute and read this!
It was the perfect storm. First the kids were out for Christmas (sounds good so far right?), then a huge snowstorm came right at the end of break keeping the kids out of school for another week and making travel with a minivan impossible, then record-breaking cold weather forced us all to stay inside. Add a little runny nose in the mix, a frozen water pipe, and a few huge pending projects at work and voila! There it is. Oh, I forgot to mention. My 5-year-old little girl keeps waking up in the middle of the night to crawl into bed with my wife and I. Yeah, it’s really sweet… the first time or ten.
I remember laying in bed thinking “this too shall pass.” Then it hit me. It will. Those cold little feet poking my back will walk out the door to discover the world. The voice at midnight whispering, “Daddy, I’m scared” will quiet, the rooms will become empty, and the noise will turn to silence. One day I’ll walk in those empty rooms and wish for all the things that drove me crazy. Now all they want is my attention and it’s sometimes hard to give. There will come a day when all I want is theirs and I am afraid THEY will find it hard to give.
I get it.
Especially when you add all the extra complexities of your own life in there. Physical conditions, family issues, maybe you’re a single parent and you feel really alone. It can feel like a relentless pressure cooker. It’s easy to sink into dread as you realize a stable home is a pipe dream because of your own instability. How in the world do we figure out how to raise kids when we haven’t even figured ourselves out?
Let me offer a thought and five encouragements.
What if this IS the purpose…
Parenting isn’t just the shaping of our kids, it is the shaping of us. Much of the “nasty” in ourselves gets squeezed out in the pressure of life, IF we allow God to shape us. This is beautiful and awful all at the same time. So let me encourage you.
1. Don’t quit. As a pastor I know a lot of people that have walked out or have been walked out on. When you are in the thick of parenting, don’t quit! When you desperately need a breather, find a friend, family member, or even a church family to help navigate the really difficult season of parenting. Take breaks, but don’t give up! BEFORE you loose control come up with a decompression plan! What’s yours?
2. We MUST stay connected to the Source that equips us with what we need to do the job before us well. John 15:4 says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” How do we remain in Him? With daily time in His Word, the Bible. When we don’t, we inevitably will come to a place of burn out.
3. You don’t have to be perfect! Just look to the One who is. When I mess up, and it is often, I take the time to talk to my kids about my frailties and how I am still learning. Don’t fake perfection. They will see through it and as they age you will loose credibility. They may even consider you a liar. Just point to Jesus. And if you have a bad day, there’s a new day to follow, another chance to start fresh—“his mercies are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:23).
4. After more than a decade of working with young adults I can say without reservation a present, flawed parent is way better than an absent parent. Be there. An imperfect involved parent is a greater gift than a new car or free college tuition. Trust me. I have worked with hundreds of students!
5. This may sting—your kid’s hope shouldn’t ultimately be in you. Be a role model, be involved, raise them right, but know ultimately this means pointing them beyond you to Christ. It may mean having your kids stay with an aunt or grandparents for a night or two because you need to do what they need to do. Seek Jesus. After all, we make a poor savior for our kids.
So here we go. Parenting will develop you into something, you can’t avoid it. What are you becoming?
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