Originally published Saturday, 28 February 2015.
Have you been living under the weight of parenting as a competitive sport?
As a parent of a kindergartner, I am just beginning to get a real-time sense of the pressures on parents and children in school. It's so easy to spend our days rushing our children from one enriching activity to the next in an effort to keep up with society's staggering pace. Tensions are rife as parents sense the need to stay on schedule and children wane in enthusiasm to keep up. All this "enrichment" brings squabbles, tension and exhaustion.
What are the outcomes of this pace on our families?
- Our children become more easily stressed as they do not see their parents come down nor learn to individually foster that peace themselves. Being stripped of this essential skill may be manageable now, but it could foster burnout later in life when pressures will only mount.
- They can develop the need to be constantly entertained rather than an inkling for creative play and the opportunity to naturally gravitate toward what attracts them through casual exploration. In other words, they sidestep an essential phase of God-ordained self-discovery.
- Most importantly, they may benefit from advancements in a particular skill from an instructor, but they miss the monumental benefit of extensive time with parents for the instruction that is meant to shape their whole life.
- Afraid our children will miss out, we set the bar high for our children - and ourselves. We live days of constant scrambling and exhaustion.
- We may masterfully keep many small balls in the air, but in doing so, we lose hands for the big ones. In other words, our children may be expertly scheduled, but our own self-care, faith practice, and even marriages can suffer.
- We lose a sense of fulfillment. It's easier to run mindlessly from one activity to the next than to employ introspection. Yet God created each child and each family as unique with different rhythms. When we neglect his creation plan, we only serve to undermine the very thing we are looking to build.
In effect, our schedules are full but our souls are thin.
Are you feeling this way, weary mama? Do you know what our faith can do?
First, we can look to Christ. In modeling the way we were meant to live as Christians, Christ was unafraid to buck the trend while teaching us the path to true life. He valued introspection and intentionally removed himself from the crowd to seek the Father's direction. He sometimes made decisions that differed from people's expectations to remain faithful to a larger truth. He often operated on the periphery of society and proved to be the most powerful there. These are principles that we can apply in our parenting too when facing societal pressure.*
Second, we can draw strength from an insightful metaphor. The other day I heard a pastor describe two kinds of birds. There are birds who flock together, who travel in groups. But there are also eagles who travel alone, soaring high above the fray. As Christians, God ordained us to be eagles. It is only then that we can reap the full benefits of our faith. In this case, those benefits are a happier home life and the increased emotional health and stability of our children in a culture that can inadvertently undermine these things.
We can cast off any insecurity and anxiety as parents and appeal to a higher standard - the call of God in our lives. Only then can we find freedom rooted in a larger purpose, and the kind of renewal for our weariness that society cannot offer. That freedom comes with a promise too:
"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31
*For scriptural examples regarding my points about the life of Christ above, see Luke 5:16, John 8:2-11, and Matthew 9:10 respectively.
If you liked this post, please check out my iBelieve article that explores this topic too. Click here to read "3 Common Mistakes Every Parent Should Avoid."
If you're interested in making God's promises a part of your daily living, don't miss the free printable that I'm giving away on my blog to new email subscribers. This professionally designed printable lists scripture's "5 Promises to Live By." It's emailed to you so that you can print out as many copies as you'd like to hang up as reminders!