Wow. Parenting is hard. No, I’m not just realizing this. I’ve been a mom for 13 years now; but things are changing. I’ve heard a lot of people say that the hardest years are when the kids are youngest. I’m not sure I agree with that. Oh, I agree that it is hard in a lot of different ways when parenting very young children: lack of sleep, lack of intimacy, lack of rest in general, inability to accomplish even the most simple of tasks, cleaning up whatever bodily fluid shows itself, being responsible for every single need of another human being every waking and sleeping hour. I have a 10 month old and I haven’t left the house completely alone in 10 months. So, yeah, it’s hard.
However, I also have an 8 year old, an 11 year old, and a 13 year old. Boy, that’s something else. Give me the vomit and perma-baby on the hip any day. Things have gotten much more complicated. “Cleaning up messes” has taken on a whole new meaning. The issues now are becoming more about character and spiritual health. What kind of people are they becoming? Are we pleased? If not, what needs changed? Are the influences in their lives leading them in a direction contrary to the moral foundation we as a family are trying to set?
I know many people think we should let our kids choose their own friends and make their own mistakes. I agree to an extent. However, there is a certain amount of discretion and wisdom that only comes with emotional and spiritual maturity. Our children may not see the things we notice as potentially harmful to their physical, emotional, or spiritual well-being.
People say not to shelter them. Well what the heck are parents for then? Doesn’t God keep us in the shadow of His wing? He is our strong tower, shelter over us: “In you I take shelter “ (Psalm 143: 9); “The Lord will be a shelter for His people” (Joel 3:16). Shelter is a good thing. Aren’t we to follow His example?
There are so many different ways to parent children. How strict should we be in regards to what music, movies, etc. they are exposed to? There are always going to be parents who are less strict than us, and parents who are more strict than us. And sometimes, the same parents can be super-strict in one area and appear super-lax in another. It may not make sense to an outsider, but if we discuss it with them, it makes sense to them. And, there are always going to be people who are more than happy and eager to offer their advice-whether or not it is asked for.
Thank God He has given us direction in His word. We can definitely start from there. For less obvious decisions, we need to remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, do what we believe is right, regardless of what others around us think, and pray that God’s grace fills in the gaps.