Not for the Faint at Heart

Written by: Meaghan Highway, LMHC

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. – James Baldwin

Having a child can be one of the most rewarding and bewildering challenges anyone can face. What an honor – to be entrusted with nurturing a soul throughout their life! At the same time, parenting can also be daunting and overwhelming, and this is normal to experience. The good news is that we cannot be perfect parents, and so we can release ourselves from this expectation. At the same time, we should try to be aware that our kids do watch what we do, and echo what we say, because we are some of their first examples.

The Bible shows us in Genesis 4 that the first children of Adam and Eve were not born until after the Fall, but also demonstrates that God was still an active part of this family’s cohesive life. Though children now are born into troubled times, through the example of their parents they can begin to see God actively engaged in their world.

Here are three concrete ideas to consider when you are handed the gift of being a parent:

  1. Evaluate your expectations. What did you expect being a parent to be like? Was it an accurate perception? Did you meet that expectation, or do you find yourself going off in a completely new direction? What do you hope and dream for, with your kids? How do you want to be involved in helping them achieve their personal goals and desires? Using these questions as a spring-board, consider jotting down whatever comes to mind in response. Becoming aware of our inner thoughts and feelings about parenting (which can be largely influenced by how we ourselves were parented), can help us make more informed and compassionate decisions, today.
  2. Find a support network. Parenting is such a tough job, and no one should go through it alone. Reach out to your local community and see if there are play groups for your kids, support groups for moms and dads, religious activities throughout the year (i.e. VBS), or a local church that can be a source of hope. Making sure your foundation is stable while parenting will help ensure that not only do your kids get a well rounded exposure to the world, but also that you will be receiving the help that you need for such an important role.
  3. Practice grace. Ephesians 2:4 – 5 (NIV) tells us, “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ … it is by grace you have been saved.” God’s great love for us is a gift, something we could never earn or pay for. In actively receiving this grace, we see changes in our lives – we practice forgiveness, we try to go the extra mile for others, we see our desires changing to be more like God. As we extend grace to ourselves we are more willing to give grace and recognize when we overreacted, were impatient or were preoccupied and have hurt our child’s feelings. What we do after we’ve hurt their feelings is the important part. By going to your child, admitting you were in the wrong and seeking forgiveness, this releases them from the guilt and confusion they experienced by your previous response to them. It goes a long way in continuing to establish a loving, supportive relationship; affirms for your children that they are valued by you; and helps keep lines of communication emotionally safe.

Have grace on yourself for the times when you make mistakes as a parent – this role is not for the faint of heart! Above all, keep in mind that God is in your corner – He wants your role as a parent to grow and flourish, and will be with you every step of the way.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is intended to educate, inform and entertain. This does not represent psychotherapy, therapeutic assessment, or any other form of therapeutic intervention. This should not be used as a substitute for consultation and treatment with a licensed mental health professional. If you have questions related to the material contained in this site please contact CCM or a licensed mental health professional of your choice.

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