Hey Moms and Dads! The work that you are doing is not in vain. I want you to know that you are making a difference. Every time you change a diaper, brush teeth, make a lunch, send a text, drag them to church, etc., you are making a difference. Your choice to show up for them is laying the foundation for their life. That is no small thing. You are amazing and I’m cheering you on!
There are a couple of purposes of this post:
- If you are a parent, hopefully this will hold you accountable and challenge you to be intentional with your kids. Children are a blessing and gift from God. They ultimately belong to Him. He has loaned them to us for us to steward and equip. “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him,” (Psalm 127:3 NLT).
- I want us to see difficult people through this lens and have compassion on them. Everyone has a story. We have no idea what people are going through. “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love,” (Ephesians 4:2 NLT).
- Finally, I want you to see areas where you need healing. “He heals the wounds of every shattered heart,” (Psalm 147:3 TPT).
I am extremely fortunate that I have loving, available parents. My parents always showed up for us… ball games, birthdays, and holidays were a big deal. Here’s just one example: I did a dance with a buddy at the talent show in the 5th grade. Mom coordinated our outfits and scheduled the practices. Dad stood in the back of the auditorium with his video camera out, documenting every minute. (He is still the guy behind the camera documenting everything.) They made it a priority to show up for us. They “adopted” my friends too. If someone needed a dependable role model, they came to my parents and called them mom and dad too.
(I very obviously cropped some family members out of this. Sorry gma and gpa! This was the only old school picture I could find with my parents.)
Just the other day, I found out that my parents were taking a special solo trip to Mount Magazine which is two hours from us. I invited myself, crashed their private party, and they bought ME dinner! They are precious.
(Let’s just pretend like Landree is looking!)
Our parents shape so much of who we are. The way that they nurture and discipline us goes deep down into our souls and creates a part of our personality. Parents who are loving and attentive, create a safe place for their children to grow. These kiddos know that their needs are going to be met. They are generally more open and trusting of others. The exact opposite is true of parents who are neglectful and harsh. Their children are generally more fearful and feel the need to protect themselves because that is what has been communicated to them at home. We are going to talk about the importance of parenting today.
Here are three truths about the important responsibility of parenting:
1. Our need for connection is God given.
Bonding with one’s parents is critical, especially in the first couple of years of a child’s life. Our first human interactions are while we are completely helpless. God designed it that way so that we would be nurtured and cared for.
“Human babies are born very dependent on their parents. They undergo huge brain development, growth and neuron pruning in the first two years of life. The brain development of infants (as well as their social, emotional and cognitive development) depends on a loving bond or attachment relationship with a primary caregiver, usually a parent. There is increasing evidence from the fields of development psychology, neurobiology and animal epigenetic studies that neglect, parental inconsistency and a lack of love can lead to long-term mental health problems as well as to reduced overall potential and happiness.”
I heard Robert Morris say in a sermon recently that Jesus (who is God and was present at creation) chose to come as a baby, not a king. He could have chosen to enter His earthly life with status and no one would have thought anything strange about it. In fact, that is what the Jews were expecting. But Jesus came as an infant. He had to be fed, changed, carried around, taught. He chose to come into this world dependent.
“For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem,” (Isaiah 66:12-13 ESV).
God was telling Israel that He was going to comfort them in the same way a mother comforts her child. She provides his food, carries him, plays with him, and comforts him. All of those things were designed by God to be our first interactions on this planet. He wanted them safe, secure, and filled with love.
2. Our country is in a family crisis.
The family was the first institution that God created. He is passionate about families being healthy and staying together. Of course there are extreme cases in which it is impossible for a family to stay together, that is not what I am referring to. I am talking about the casual attitude that we have the right to just change our mind about who we are married to. When you are in a covenant marriage, you lay down your rights and choose the other person over yourself. There is a protective covering that comes from being in covenant with your spouse. That commitment provides children with safety and stability.
In 2018, there were over 15 million single moms in the United States. Kris Valloton says that this generation is the, “Most fatherless generation in American history in which our fathers didn’t die in war!” In previous generations when there were overwhelming numbers of single-parent households, the main reason was war. So many children are growing up without fathers and there are some very serious consequences to that.
“The fact is we have an epidemic of absentee fathers in the home and a disintegrating family structure in America. [It] is a major cause for what we see happening in these mass shootings. We have a generation of young people who have no mentors. There is no one to instruct and encourage them, or to help them on their path to manhood or womanhood.”
Retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin
(I encourage you to read his entire article, it is extremely helpful. The link it listed on his name.)
If you are a single mom or dad, I salute you. I can not imagine the pressures that you face. I am sincerely praying that God would surround you with people who support you and your kiddo(s). You are true heroes.
3. The only perfect parent is God.
Every parent has messed up. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. This is in no way about making anyone feel bad for their mistakes in parenting. Shame, guilt, and condemnation have no place here. If you know that you’ve said or done hurtful things to your kids, then simply ask God to forgive you and help you to change.
I pray that your parents treated you like you were a blessing. Odds are that they hurt you at some point, probably multiple times. It is important to heal from those experiences so that you don’t unknowingly continue the cycle with your own children or project that pain onto God. Forgiveness can be hard work but it is crucial for your health and freedom. I also recommend therapy if you need it.
The church that we used to be on staff at had a freedom event called Kairos. It absolutely changed our lives. There were different sessions but one of the most popular was about Mother and Father Wounds. They would teach about how our parents show us the nature of God. The Father shows us the justice and discipline of God. The Mother shows us the nurturing, caring side of God. They taught that when we are hurt by our parents, it affects the way that we see and relate to God. Then a leader would come up to the front and stand in as your mom and dad. They would say things like, “I’m sorry for not seeing the best in you, being too harsh, making you feel like your sibling was the favorite, not honoring your other parent, etc.” It was beautiful. You could hear sobs around the room from people receiving healing from the Lord.
We are God’s kids and He is our perfect Father. He is always near, always listening, and always has time for us. I am praying that as you go through the homework, you see how much God loves you. He wants you to receive healing for yourself and for your family.