An Encouragement to Parents
Being a parent of young kids brings many challenges.
Meal times in good families have conversations sharing the highs and lows of their day, everyone is respectful, and laughter abounds. But my family seemed to squabble about the food. “How much food do I have to eat? And why do we need vegies anyway, can’t we just eat pizza?
Good families have their child’s clothes ironed and cleaned, looking like they just walked off the page of a David Jones catalogue. But my kids had rips, stains, tears and creases; you’d think they were attending a war zone instead of school. Well, I’m sure they felt that way sometimes.
We can look at these challenges like running a hurdle race in the school athletics carnival. If we meet each challenge and sail over that hurdle; then we feel the victory of a graceful athlete. But if we fail each challenge, crash through the barrier and have ourselves spread-eagled over the track; it feels like the whole world is watching and judging us as a failed parent.
This can rock us to the core. When you come to that place where giving everything is not enough, you dig deep, but there is nothing left: your whole being is spent. That’s when your identity as a parent can be challenged. Did I do enough? Did I get it right? Where did I go wrong?
But friends, when you’re lying on that track, bruised, grazed, the object of derision and scorn, that’s a good time to ask for assistance. When we realize that we can’t do this parenting thing on our own, that we need help, that’s a great place for God to enter our mess.
Instead of looking at our parenting like we’re in a short sprint, let’s see it as a marathon race; if we stumble through a hurdle, then we haven’t failed to finish the race. By God’s grace, we are still in it! We are there for the long haul, that finish line doesn’t get crossed until the very end of life itself. And the more practice we get at falling, the easier it is to get back up.
So, what have I learned?
- Keep your eyes fixed on your own race. Don’t compare your parenting/life to others. Comparing is a trap that we’ll lose even if we win. If we look like we’re ‘losing’ that’s defeating and soul destroying. But if we are ‘winning’ we can cast assumptions and judgements quicker than a policeman writing speeding tickets on a race track.
- Ask for help. Every day, constantly, especially ask God for wisdom, strength and grace. Ask other friends for help, ask for advice. The posture of humility is where God can use us the most. Because when there is nothing left of us, there is plenty of room for God to enter in. While we are full of ourselves, even God doesn’t stand a chance.
- As parents we can tend to over dramatize our situation. Little Johnny sitting alone in the playground for one lunchtime does not equate with him being lonely for life. James Dobson once said, “just because you’re in the rapids doesn’t mean you’re heading for a waterfall”.
And friends, if you see your friend splattered on that track, failing at that hurdle which crashed, and the wind is knocked out of them. Then stop. Stop what you are doing and go help your friend get back on their feet again. Let them know how you failed too. Show them your weakness. Give them a gentle hand to help them up.
Because in that moment, you both become winners.