Life is a journey! I think we’ve all heard “life” made reference to in a number of metaphors or similes. However, I think it’s safe to propose that we could insert any number of other words in place of “life”. Marriage, a career, and yes, PARENTING!
The word “journey” (as stated in the Mirriam-Webster dictionary), is actually defined as “the travel or passage from one place to another”. It doesn’t really include a description of how that journey takes place, i.e.. easily, with much difficulty, quickly, slowly, etc. Just a basic knowledge that one will get from point A to point B as a result.
I’ve managed to ramble sufficiently so I’ll come to the the subject of my ponderings of late! A struggle I seem to have a hard time letting go of…what makes a good parent, who is actually responsible to judge who good kids are, why are some parents so obsessed with how screwed up other people’s kids are, is there a right and a wrong way to parent and quite specifically what is God calling me to in my own personal journey as a parent.
The last year has been a journey in recognizing that I have had some pretty serious insecurities in my parenting abilities and realizing that I was letting other people’s perceptions and judgments cloud my own growth as the mother God wants me to be. The last three or four weeks have affirmed some unique, new thoughts in what I will choose to embrace moving forward in this on-going journey of parenthood. One is that parenting styles are highly over-rated. I googled “parenting styles” and pages and pages of “information” appeared before me…from parenting style quizzes to charts on parenting styles to parenting styles for specific temperaments. One could become entirely hopeless trying to determine the “right” parenting style to adopt for any one of their one, two, three, etc. children. The fact of the matter is that there is no right or wrong style to undertake in your efforts to raise healthy, productive children but there is something your children can absolutely NOT live without and that is LOVE. Now when I say LOVE, I mean they have to see it…feel it…hear it…experience it….know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love them with an unwavering, everlasting, breath-taking kind of way. In speaking with several seasoned, experienced parents they all nodded in agreement that you can be authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, or whatever style you’ve coined yourself and if you lack love nothing you do will make any difference at all. It doesn’t mean your littles will turn out terribly but it does mean you will fail to form a connection with them that will bring about the influence most parents wish to have with their children. 1 Corinthians 13…the “love” chapter is pretty clear that LOVE is where it’s at.
A second thing I’ve been challenged by is the realization that I will NEVER, achieve perfection in my parenting, both for myself or in my children and in the same token I am NOT above learning something new or gleaning from the wisdom of my elders. While I’m pretty sure I have not been so arrogant as to think that I had it all figured out I have been guilty a time or two of starting a sentence with,”when I have children (that age, at that stage, etc.)…”! Honestly I think that statement should be banned from use in any language because, quite frankly, until you’ve actually reached that point you have no idea what you will or will not do. There are certainly ideals and dreams that we each have about how we envision raising our children but the reality of said children often shatters those completely, only to leave us with these beautiful littles, unaccompanied by manuals telling us exactly what to do with them. If you do actually think you have it all figured out perhaps it would be best to keep that tidbit of information to yourself because some of us are not so confident that it’s even possible to “figure it all out”.
The third and most captivating lesson I am on the road to learning is that “freedom” can be found from the fear of doing it all wrong and in fact needs to be found in order to fully enjoy and participate in the privilege God has given us in raising the littles. I am currently reading a book called “Loving our Kids on Purpose” by Danny Silk. It was given to me by a couple that I deeply respect and appreciate, two people who I know have been on their knees, praying for us and our littles for MANY, many years. I won’t spend time giving you book review here but I will encourage you that if you’re feeling a high level of fear, anxiety, discouragement, or uncertainty about parenting your littles this would be a great book to pick up. If you’re just trudging along in the trenches of parenthood and don’t feel like you have too many problems this book is a great one to pick up and inspire you to connect even more with your kids on a heart level. While I wouldn’t say it’s changing my life, it’s encouraging James and I that we’re doing exactly what God has called us to do. It’s reminding me that it doesn’t matter what other people think, it only matters if James and I are fulfilling the responsibilities given to us by the Creator of our littles.
The ultimate truth is that no two littles will be parented the same way and that does not mean that someone screwed up. It does mean that God puts some thought into each family unit he creates. He knows our strengths and weaknesses, he understands our personal dynamics and relationships and because he knows these things he will give us the tools we need to journey. And regardless of whether that journey is easy, difficult, fraught will danger or just average he will ensure we make it from point A to point B.