Authentic Parenting When Life is Hard
Life is hard, you guys. Like, for real. And so is marriage, and parenting, and finances, and working, and friendships, and family. There is nothing I have experienced in my life that has been good AND easy. All the good stuff is hard; it takes attention, effort, and perseverance. Parenting has to be one of the world's greatest paradoxes, though. It's the easiest thing in the world to love your children, and yet it can be the most brutally challenging experience of your life at the same time. And it starts right at childbirth--you're forced to go through the most excruciatingly painful event of your life but it's also the experience that brings exponentially greater joy and love into your life.
But God created it all that way, and there is obviously a reason for it.
I can think of trivial things in my life that I let slip by or even actively let go just because I hadn't invested anything into it. It's a lot easier to take pride in your car or your home when you bought it with your own money. It's easier to work hard at your university education when you're seeing every dollar you earn go towards that degree.
God knows what he's doing, and He's always good... even when it seems like life just sucks.
I believe that one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to be authentic...
...we can show them there's hard with the good, that there's evil but there's redemption, and that God is good even when life is not.
And most importantly for me, I want to show my kids that I'm not perfect, that I don't have it all together, that life is hard, and that it's okay. I want to be bold enough to show my kids my weaknesses, but also show them where I get my strength.
When we can teach our kids that kind of real life, authentic living, we set them up to succeed in the future. We show them that we don't make our choices based on our challenges. We have a God who is bigger than our weaknesses, our failures, and our defeats.
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I realized the true value of this kind of authentic parenting several months ago. My daughter wasn't in the greatest mood one day and she made the decision that she needed some quiet time to herself to read her bible, so she excused herself from what the rest of us were doing.
She was still 5 at the time and able to read most words in her NIrV bible, but it's not like she was going to go study theology... she knew that she was struggling and the most beneficial thing for her to do in that moment was to spend time with God.
For a split second, I questioned my own vulnerability as a mom; I could easily think of a handful of times that I put myself in a time out to read my bible because I was turning into a crazy mom.
But then I felt the immense joy of seeing that I modeled that for my daughter. I showed her that it's okay to not be okay, but we need to go to God for our help.
Now my daughter is six, easily reading her bible, and has asked me for a highlighter on multiple occasions this week because she'd like to highlight the words that "are important" in her bible.
Monkey see, monkey do.
If we want to raise a generation of strong, Christian men and women who have their feet planted firmly on the solid foundation of Jesus, then we need to be living our own lives out in the open, showing our struggles, and magnifying God's grace, goodness and strength.