A Few Simple (and Freeing) Truths I’ve Realized in Raising Young Children

10341519_902198183138904_4226605190141266055_nThere’s a lot of stuff flowing around in my newsfeed about what you should and shouldn’t be doing with your children. Articles about how much screen time your child should have, what they should or shouldn’t be eating, when they should or shouldn’t be potty trained, who they should or shouldn’t be hanging out with and more.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel intense pressure and fear that I’m not getting it right. I’m screwing up because I’m not doing “this” or “that.” Half the time, I’m just trying to make it to the next day.

As someone who already struggles at times toward legalism, I gravitate toward the do’s and don’ts. And sometimes I sadly take pride in it.

After having my fourth child however my views have changed a lot. I’ve become more laid back realizing that my “list” isn’t always God’s agenda. I can say now that my daughter Rebekah is fully potty trained (at 3 1/2). Praise the Lord as it’s been a long journey. And it was never on my timetable no matter how much I prodded. My son John took until just before he was 4.

Some times my kids eat macaroni, hot dogs, and non-organic popsicles. Sometimes they play with kids at our local park that live in the affordable housing near it. Yep, and sometimes they hear cuss words from them too.

I get it though. I want to protect them as much as I can. I want them to be healthy. I want them to be on time developmentally. Contributors not burdens to society. Lights in this world of darkness. I don’t want them to follow the broad path that leads to destruction and death. I really want them behaving well and for their hearts to know right from wrong. I want to be present with them and enjoy them as young babies. And most of all, I want them to follow Jesus and all his ways.

I’ve found so much freedom though in letting go of control, my do’s and don’ts, and letting God guide our family. I’ve found freedom in flexibility and moderation. I confess that we do watch Netflix when I’m cooking meals. Otherwise my house would burn down. I know the news and writers out there mean well in the parenting articles. I’ve probably written a well-meaning article and I’m sure a reader has felt he or she hasn’t measured up in some way. Most of the time those articles are written to help us be better parents and I think that’s great.

But my point is to encourage you as a parent to live in freedom, not chained to the do’s and don’ts regarding the smaller things. To live in moderation because it is possible. To not feel guilty because you’re doing a great job and the best you know how. If you’re a Christ follower, rest assured that the Holy Spirit will convict you when you’ve been on the iPhone too long, when that video should be turned off, or when you feel the nudge to have your son say goodbye to his rough-on-the-edges friend at the park.

The Holy Spirit will convict you when you’re not leading well as a parent. And He can change you in that struggle toward anger, control, or whatever it may be. Be patient with yourself.

God is molding all our families in different ways and He is the One who is sovereign over all the details. I know I’ll read another article where I won’t feel like I measure up, but I hope to remember the truth that I only need to look to the Lord first for help and direction.

And I really do have the ability to live freely as I love and disciple my children. I can rest in the truth that they know I love them.

Are you emotionally available?


One of the greatest things I’m learning as a mom are the many things that try to compete with the time and attention I give to my almost 15 month old son.

This past Wednesday when we were at lunch at Panera, I held John in my arms while we ordered soup, salad, mac & cheese, and chocolate milk. The cashier ladies made faces at him and he smiled back so excited. I loved seeing his new teeth come through and how his light brown hair was getting a little longer. At the table, my mom and I talked about life while we tried to feed John the macaroni he didn’t want. He was always on my mind and he was right there with us, just speaking his own language.

When we came back for his nap, even though I had a little work to do from home, I kept thinking how grateful I was to be his Mommy. Even though he was a little grouchy when he woke up, I hugged him and rocked him whispering in his ear, “I was once a grouchy little girl too.” And it came to my realization that I wanted him to know that I was not only physically there for him, but I was there emotionally too. And that I would be as long as I was his mother.

Many of us play a lot of roles as Mommy, Dad, husband, wife, aunt, uncle, friend, sister, brother, etc. And I think it’s safe to say that sometimes we’re just not always there with the people we love. I’m not. But, I’ve been really challenged to make sure that I’m finding “quiet” in my mind so that I can be all there. For me, that means first caring for my soul spiritually. Then…

Nourishing my marriage.
Taking care of self.
Pursuing a simpler life.

I’m definitely not perfect at this and never will be, but I really want to strive for it. When John is old enough to understand, it will be so critical for those emotional needs of his to have been met and it’s amazing how it all starts with me.

Generation ME vs. YOU

narcisists.gif I stumbled upon the article below in New York Times today that says, “Conventional wisdom, supported by academic studies using the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, maintains that today’s young people– schooled in the church of self-esteem, vying for spots on reality television, promoting themselves on YouTube– are more narcisstic than their predecessors. A study released last year by the PEW Research Center for the People and Press dubbed Americans age 18-25 as the “Look at Me” generation and reported that this group said that their top goals were fortune and fame.

This article is engaging and interesting. It has caused me to search deep within myself. I am 25 yrs. old so I guess I’ve been labeled the “Look at Me” generation. I could say easily, yes, that we are self-absorbed as young people with all our gadgets and new tech., but young people have similar struggles as their parents and our entire culture. The tension within is not merely cultural, but our own sinfulness. We are the most “marketed to” generation ever and we are told if it feels good, then buy it and do it.

Narcissism: The fascination with one-self. Self-love. Do you think it’s something my generation deals with alone? Youtube, facebook, myspace, the wii, x-box, american idol, ipod’s, and iphone’s are not bad in and of themselves, but I can see how others label my generation’s fascination with these material things as just that. The above most certainly can be the vehicle to lead a person down a narcisstic, self-absorbed path when not used with discernment or humility. We could add moderation in there as well. But yet again, narcissism is often just within our sinful nature and we must constantly fight against it- no matter how young or how old (“For above all, guard you heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” -Prov. 4:23)

What are your thoughts?

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/17/fashion/17narcissism.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

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