Why is Parenting so Complicated?
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I recently read an article about parenting that I really liked. The author made some really great points, and some of them I would like to expand on. You can read the article here: Parenting 001.
This article really made me think about how I was raised, and the things my parents did to raise me right. I think the author (DeYoung) is right about parenting becoming more complicated, but I think that also comes with a more complicated world then it used to be as well. Parents feel as though they have to keep up.
“Does it seem like parenting has gotten more complicated? I mean, as far as I can tell, back in the day parents basically tried to feed their kids, clothe them, and keep them away from explosives. Now our kids have to sleep on their backs (no wait, their tummies; no never mind, their backs), while listening to Baby Mozart surrounded by scenes of Starry, Starry Night. They have to be in piano lessons before they are five and can’t leave the car seat until they’re about five foot six.“
How true is this paragraph?? If you think back to the sitcoms in the old days, where kids played outside on their own without fear of getting taken, or when the worst thing they did was get into a scuffle at school, we have certainly come along way. Now, people read every book out there, and listen to every “scientific” survey of how children can develop better if you do or use such-and-such. Is listening to Baby Mozart or getting music lessons that early wrong? Of course not! But is it necessary? So many parents give in to the competition and think, “My baby needs that.” They think they need it to be smart, or to be better than the other kids. But I don’t think that is necessarily true. Is one baby better or smarter than the other because the did these things? Of course not! So why do we as parents think that way? Why do we make it so complicated?
DeYoung says, “It’s all so involved. There are so many rules and expectations. Kids can’t even eat sugar anymore. My parents were solid as a rock but we still had a cupboard populated with cereal royalty like Captain Crunch and Count Chocula. In our house the pebbles were fruity and the charms were lucky. The breakfast bowl was a place for marshmallows, not dried camping fruit. Our milk was 2%.”
I absolutely loved this statement by DeYoung! I remember growing up my mom would buy the cheap cereals. It didn’t matter that much if it had marshmallows or sugar, it was just cereal! While she did buy the healthy ones too, we did get some of both, and we never died from a sugar overdose either! The way I look at it is there are ways to be healthy, but it’s also ok to eat other things sometimes too. Eating a cereal with sugar in it every once and awhile is not going to hurt my son. (Although all he eats right now is cheerios!)
The article goes on to talk about a discussion the author would like to have with his child vs the conversation he actually has. He mentions a book (Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp) several times, and I have been currently been working on reading that book (before I heard about it in the article). My church recommended the book and I plan on doing a review of it on this blog after I finish it. Even though my son, isn’t old enough to have any conversations yet, the ones DeYoung spoke of made me smile because I think that is what every parent goes through. Children can be exasperating at times, and we as parents want to make the best of every situation. We want to use it to teach, to be an example, to guide their heart. But of course, this is real life, and it doesn’t always work that way. No family is perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still raise your kids right!
I grew up in a pretty strict home. I say strict because my parents were very conservative on what we were and were not allowed to do. But on the other hand they let us do things, that people today, would probably balk at (like eating sugary cereals)! But in spite of it all, and most importantly my parents made sure that they taught us the Bible, they we knew the Scriptures, and that we lived it, not pretended. There wasn’t much complicated about I don’t think. They just did what they thought was best. They taught us about God, brought us to church every Sunday morning, night, and Wednesday night, and made sure we were disciplined and well-behaved.
I don’t know about you, but my main goal is to raise my son to be a godly man. To be well-behaved, well-mannered, and a gentleman. I understand that it ll starts with me. I have to set an example and I need to be a godly woman, wife, and mother. Deyoung sums it up quite well:
“I want to grow as a parent–in patience and wisdom and consistency. But I also know that I can’t change my kids’ hearts. I am responsible for my heart and must be responsible to teach them the way of the Lord. But nothin’ guarantees nothin’. I’m just trying to be faithful, and then repent for all the times I’m not.”
So again, I think what did my parents do right? What can I do to learn from their mistakes and their achievements? I see a lot I can take from, and a lot I would like to leave behind. How can I be the best parent I can be? This next statement by Deyoung really got me:
“I worry that many young parents are a) too adamant about the particulars of their parenting or b) too sure that every decision will set their kids on an unalterable trajectory to heaven or hell. It’s like my secretary at the church once told me: “Most moms and dads think they are either the best or the worst parents in the world, and both are wrong.” Could it be we’ve made parenting too complicated? Isn’t the most important thing not what we do but who we are as parents? They will see our character before they remember our exact rules regarding television and twinkies.”
I really like this because even before I was a parent, I remember thinking… ” What if no matter what I teach them, or what I do, they still stray from what God wants for them?” I think the answer is nothing. If we do what we are supposed to do and be the best we can be and they still stray, then that is their decision and between them and God. There is nothing we can do, except pray for them every day. But I think for the most part if we stop worrying about the little things, like sugar snacks, tv usage, and whatever else, and focus on our behavior as parents, on setting an example, and using the Bible to guide our families, then the rest will fall into place.
My parents, especially my mom, instilled in my brothers and I a want to do right. Our family motto growing up was, “Always do the right thing.” Yes, my parents were not perfect, they made mistakes, but at least the taught us what was right and showed us in and through the Bible how to live it.
Deyoung ends with this:
“I just know that the longer I parent the more I want to focus on doing a few things really well, and not get too passionate about all the rest. I want to spend time with my kids, teach them the Bible, take them to church, laugh with them, cry with them, discipline them when they disobey, say sorry when I mess up, and pray like crazy. I want them to look back and think, “I’m not sure what my parents were doing or if they even knew what they were doing. But I always knew my parents loved me and I knew they loved Jesus.” Maybe it’s not that complicated after all.”
I don’t think it needs to be complicated. But I think so many parents myself included think that we need to do all these things for our kids to turn out “right.” It doesn’t have to be complicated. We just have to live lives that glorify Jesus and the rest will fall into place. If we are living by God’s Word and doing everything we should, then we will be good parents because God will lead, guide, and direct us in raising our kids. He will help us do the right thing.
Complicated parenting? Not for me! I just want to raise Godly children to be the best they can be for God. Does it mean it will be easy? I highly doubt it! But with God’s help, I can be a great parent and set the right example. I don’t have to get caught up in feeling guilty over the little things, because I know if I follow God’s Word then little things like tv, and snacks, or other things aren’t going to matter in the long run.
What did your parents do right to raise you? What are some things you want to do the same? What are some things you want to do differently?
Yes, I, myself could say that being a parent is the hardest job the you will ever have. Just imagine that there are really no rule books of being a good parent. It really varies on how your children acts out and depending on the situation you have.
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Another good post. I really like the last indented paragraph. Lot of truth to it. There is no way parents can learn how to do everything right. But what they can learn – how to be a stable, consistent presence in the home. That produces healthy kids.