When we were in the throes of diapers and sleepless nights, I thought parenting was hard. When we came alongside our kids and their activities in elementary school, I thought the frenetic pace would not end. When we moved overseas and tried to parent a teen and two elementary aged kids, I thought my brain and heart and will would explode.
And now we’re in the terrible (yet beautiful) teens and I’m once again convinced that parenting is hard.
It’s hard because each child is different. What “works” for one damages the other. How we talk to each must be modified, prayed over, and approached with sensitivity. Each child has different obstacles, stresses and challenges. And sometimes I’m just so tired to shape shift to the needs of my kids.
Parenting is hard because we don’t get a break from it. It’s that 24/7 job that never ends, that requires countless acts of selflessness and patience. I’m thankful for that because left to myself, I’d wane in the land of selfishness. Having to bend my will to others and choose to serve my kids is so good for my soul. Nonetheless sometimes it can be tiring.
Parenting is hard because we don’t automatically know the answers. (And the answers change all the time.) There is no manual, really. Even the Bible is silent on many things we face, though it gives good wisdom. Nor does it guarantee that if we do everything “right,” our kids will turn out well (by our standards.) God as the perfect parent to Adam and Eve watched His creation exercise their own free wills and walk away from Him. If His kids rebelled, then we shouldn’t lose heart if ours do.
The bottom line for me is simply placing each child in God’s hands. It’s praying for my kids. It’s laying down my agenda to listen and ask great questions. It’s cultivating an interruptible heart. It’s leaning on God when I have no clue. It’s asking advice of seasoned parents. It’s letting my children’s reactions not temper my heart for them.
A Prayer for Parents
Lord, we hand You our kids today. We admit we can’t do this parenting thing on our own. We need You. They need You. Help me be selfless, patient, and kind. Help me to treat my children the way I like to be treated. Help me to be fair, yet tenderhearted. Help me to be consistent, yet full of peace and joy. Give me insight into the heart of each of my children. Help me to navigate their hearts as an explorer, not a judge. Give me Your love to convey to them. Help me say my love and live my love and demonstrate my love in a way that my kids actually hear it. Amen.