dear younger me, here’s what they don’t tell you about parenting

Dear Younger Me,
One day you’ll hear yourself yell in frustration, “If you‘re going to stand on the kitchen table, at least sit down.”

With that nonsense echoing in your ears, you’ll suddenly awake from a parenting stupor. You’ll wonder when exactly you surrendered your home and sanity to a couple of pint-sized preschoolers. And wonder how long they’ve been tap dancing on the furniture.

All is not lost, however. Simply get your game face on and get back to being the strong but loving mama God meant you to be.
xxoo,
Older Me

Yep. That really happened. At about the time period of this photo at a resort called Shangri-la. The irony of the resort name is not lost on me. Family life can be anything but.

That year was one of many times I misplaced my mama-moxie for a bit and felt unequal to the task of parenting. In fact, at every stage of parenting I’ve had moments of drifting along followed by a jolting reminder that what my kids need every day is a mama who lavishes them with love but also lays down the law. What that looks like on a practical level, though, has always depended on the kid, the situation, and the stage of growth. My best #dearyoungerme advice as we close out this series? Stay in the game, and follow the Coach’s playbook.

Nope. I’m not going to give Younger Me a list of tried-and-true parenting tips. There are gobs of excellent resources out there for that. What I will say is this: parenting can either drive you to your knees in prayer or drive you to the edge of your sanity. I believe with all my heart that the process of figuring out how to parent has been one of the most important drivers for my own spiritual formation. Every time I’ve faced a parenting challenge, the answer has always been two-fold:

  1. Decide to persevere with grit and determination.
  2. Take it to God.

And let’s be honest, many times I’ve first had to deep dive into dialogue with God through prayer and His Word just to buck up my courage to persevere. Pretty sure He’s totally fine with that.

We are MADE to grow in wisdom over time and to become stronger, more capable parents, but we cannot do so if we let ourselves get so discouraged or distracted that we give away our God-ordained authority as parents. God created families. They were His idea all the way from the beginning of human history as the means by which each generation would learn to love and thrive in community with Him and each other.  As parents, we are our children’s first glimpse of God and will shape their view of Him for years to come.

Scary? Maybe. But also beautiful because that means God is 100% in our corner when it comes to parenting. Scripture is flooded with instructions for raising wise, well-functioning children. Indeed, the whole book of Proverbs is set up as a dialogue between parent and child about practical wisdom.

However, it also makes sense that God would allow parenting to be a true challenge. If we could figure it all out on our own, we would never need to be in relationship with our own Heavenly Parent. Never in my life have I seen the wisdom of Proverbs 3:5-6 played out more than in my parenting journey:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. (The Message)

So, Younger Me? Whether you feel like you’re winning or failing at parenting today, know this: Your Papa, your Abba Father, has your back. He’s ready with everything you need to raise your precious ones, and He will add some joy back into your parenting if you seek Him with all your heart.

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