Parenting is not an easy job! No matter how thoughtful or careful we work to be, we’ll make mistakes. No matter how diligent we are about teaching our kids how to make wise decisions, they’ll make mistakes. No matter how much you want everybody in your family to think and feel the same way about things, your kids will be different from you and they’ll be different from one another. Our expectations for parenting are often very different from the day-to-day reality.
My wife and I have four adult children, and now we’re getting to go through the stages of childhood again with our 7 grandkids, who all live in our area and range in age from ten down to one and a half. Jane and I are very clearly reminded of the truth from Psalm 127:3, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from Him.” Children are absolutely a heritage and a reward, but I’ll be honest, that’s a little easier to see when you’re doing the grandparenting! Because the craziness of life during the season of parenting often leaves people feeling like they’re overwhelmed and just barely keeping their heads above water.
Parenting is all about doing things intentionally and faithfully and doing them over and over and over.
Hebrews 12:11 is right on with this truth: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” The discipline of loving our kids well and parenting them even when we’re tired or annoyed is not always pleasant, but it is absolutely worth it!
I often remind parents with young kids or teens that our goal as parents is not for our kids to “peak” or be “finished products” at age 10. Or 15. Or even 18. Our goal as parents is that our kids are able to leave home and establish their own life. Our goal is that they will continue to make wise and God-honoring decisions in their lives when they’re 25 and 35 and 45. In other words, my encouragement is that parenting is a marathon, not a sprint! So, don’t be surprised, and don’t get discouraged when the days and weeks start to feel like a grind and like you can’t see any progress (and even if you don’t see any hope for progress!).
Parenting is hard work, but do your best to keep your eyes on the long-term outcome that you’re looking for rather than getting caught up in the highs and lows of the day-to-day.
Prayer to pray: “God, help me to view parenting on the right timeline. This day-in, day-out process is meant to be about investing in my kids for the long term. Help me not get worn down or discouraged on the days that are especially hard or tiring. Help me entrust my kids to you at the same time that I work to raise them and love them well. Amen.”
Dan Seaborn is the founder and president of Winning At Home, a marriage and family organization based in Zeeland, Michigan. His practical illustrations and memorable real-life examples teach others how to win at home. He and his wife, Jane, have four adult children and live in West Michigan.