Parenting is hard work! It’s exhausting, sometimes unrewarding, demanding, consuming, delightful, encouraging, and totally worth it! But I think that sometimes the hardest part about being a parent is doing the unpopular thing. When no one else supports you in the efforts you are making, it can get very discouraging. You may just want to throw in the towel and give in to the pressures of the world.
I remember when I was single that I often looked critically at the people around me who were parents. “I would never do that to my child! I would never say something like that! That kid is probably acting that way because that parent taught them to be that way!” I remember that I even had opinions when I became a mom and had an infant who (to my great delight) slept through the night at only six weeks old (Warning: This does not mean that they will stay in their beds when they are three years old!). Now that I have two kids – one preschooler who is a girl and one toddler who is a boy – I have no opinions left! LOL!
The truth is that it is much easier to judge other parents rather than look at our own inadequacies as parents! I hate to admit that my child was probably the one you heard screaming in Target last week. And I hate to admit that it was my child who pushed your kid down in nursery. And I hate to admit that my kids are sinners who need a Savior, and it is only by the grace of that Savior that I am able to parent these kids on a daily basis!
Matthew 7:1-5 says:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
We often apply these verses to every aspect of our lives except how we parent! I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be criticized on my parenting skills! I don’t want to look at the “plank in [my] own eye”! I think that it is definitely easier to look at someone else and criticize how they are parenting (even if my own kids acted that exact way just last week!)
I know that everyone has a different parenting style. Some people would say that Jamie and I are incredibly strict, while others would say that we are way too lenient! I watch a lot of different kids, and I have seen a lot of different parenting styles. The commonality I see amongst these parents is that they are all fighting for their children the best way that they know how! Every single child I watch has loving parents who discipline in different ways and who succeed and fail in different ways. And they all need encouragement!
“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (I Thess. 5:11).
I know that I do many things wrong as a parent, but there sure are a lot of days that I would really appreciate some encouragement. I would love to hear from a mom who has been through these difficult toddler years how she was able to get through the other side and to keep persevering! I would love to hear from a grandmother how to discipline my children in a way that brings them closer to Jesus. I would love to have a mom who is going through the same phases I am to admit to me that she struggles, too, instead of leaving me to think that I am alone.
I believe that God wants us parents to help each other, encourage each other, and support each other through the difficult task of raising our children. My children can be delightful, but they can also be difficult. So the next time you start judging me (or any other parent, for that matter), check your heart first. Unless you think there is abuse (at which time, I urge you to intervene immediately!), perhaps you should take that moment to pray for that parent and evaluate how you can encourage them. Just remember that I’m doing the best I can, and we are all in this together!
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” – James 5:16