I’m not sure about you, but I know that when my husband and I decided to get pregnant with our first child, our thoughts were not consumed with the “objectives of parenting” or “the correct goals of parenting” or “how to raise a Jesus follower”…You may be wondering how I, the author of this book, could ever admit to such a thing! I mean it would only make sense that as soon as my children were born, I would have everything mapped out perfectly concerning how they were to be raised spiritually and their relationship with God and the education they would receive and the ballet classes they would take and the football they would play and on and on…right??? WRONG! Don’t get me wrong; we were Christian and knew that we would teach our kids right from wrong and about Jesus and always attend church together as a family, but let me just say this; my husband and I didn’t really have even half of a clue about the journey we were stepping into. We were young, ignorant and extremely over joyed about this new little “she” bundle who was on her way into our world. And then…16 months later, along came anotherlittle “he” bundle!
As a new mom, I was met head on with my inadequacies, inabilities and weaknesses. During postpartum depression, I was convinced that my infant daughter didn’t like me. Then I moved on to condemning myself for challenges I faced with breastfeeding. Once I was past that, I couldn’t seem to let myself off the hook for having difficulty maintaining a perfect house…you know, like the ones on TV??? During the preschool and early elementary school years, I dealt with feelings of guilt and failure for being the worst mom on earth. Although I was trying my best, I just didn’t feel as if I measured up. I now understand that a lot of that was baggage from my growing up years, but that’s another book all together…I think my husband thought I was crazy at times, and looking back, I can see that although I wasn’t perfect, as no parent is, I wasn’t at all a “bad” parent.
I’ve learned that we have an enemy that wants to defeat us before we’ve even had a chance to fail…so that we will in fact fail! We have fantasies (or delusions) that we are going to do everything perfectly because, after all, this child is, and always will be, perfect. Therefore, we think we will never be met with any of the challenges that correcting or disciplining children bring about. I mean, it’s only other people with their kids that have to deal with that kind of ugliness, right? Yeah, right! Anyone with a 2 year old knows how short lived that pipe dream is! I think many new parents might have some sort of fantasy that plays out in their minds as to how it should be. Mine looked something like this…
My home and my parenting would look like a Downy commercial where perfect beams of sunlight would stream through the windows and everything would be light and airy as my family frolicked around the perfectly clean house in perfectly clean pajamas with perfect smiles on perfectly clean faces of children who behaved perfectly with laughter abounding… all while moving in slow motion…
Okay, back to reality…upon the discovery that your child is in fact NOT perfect, you are forced to come face to face with having to address those imperfections. Then comes the guilt and uncertainty and fear that you have somehow forever scarred this child, leaving him a life sentence of lying on a psychiatrist’s couch mulling over the terribleness of his parents. I can hear you out there…I know you can relate.
I say all of this from the start to let you know, that while some of you who are reading this book may be very planned, thoughtful and purposeful from the beginning of your child’s life about how his educational and spiritual training will go and what sport he will play and the career he will choose, many parents, (me included) have kind of stumbled our way into these waters, only to get out just far enough over our heads to find out that it only keeps getting deeper and that we need help and we need it fast! God does not require perfection from us in order to have success in doing a great job of bringing up our kids. In fact, I am convinced that He lets us get enough of a taste of those imperfections and how much we don’t know, so that it will leave us reaching for Him. When we are involving God and the wisdom of His word in the equation of raising kids, He will help us. We may not have all the answers, but we can know and rely on the One who does! I am reminded of this scripture:
1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
I bring up this scripture, b/c the truth is, even if you do have it all planned out, things don’t always go as planned. And if you think you can navigate the road ahead of you with your own map, you’ll soon discover that you should be using a different map all together. We as parents have to turn to God for our help when it comes to bringing up these children that He has entrusted to us. The only way to successfully parent our kids is to follow the direction that God has set in His word. The main objective that He has set in parenting must become our objective. His plans must become our plans and His ways, our ways.
Looking back, I’m thankful for some of those feelings of inadequacy, because without them, I don’t know that I would have sought God as much as I did. You see, whether or not you feel like you need His guidance to guide, you are desperate for Him at every turn. I think I knew this more than the average person, because I was so bogged down with the fear of not doing a good job. However, my two children are adults now, ages 21 and 20. We enjoy a wonderful relationship with them and they are happy and well adjusted. But the most important thing is that they both love and serve God with their lives. They both feel a strong call of God on their lives to serve in ministry as well as affect the world around them through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I don’t say all of that to brag on my husband or myself, but instead so that you will be encouraged to know that, no matter how prepared or unprepared you feel as a parent, God is there at every turn to help you navigate the course that is set before you. I pray that this book will help to serve as a tool and guide in helping you to raise up Jesus followers.