A Few Simple (and Freeing) Truths I’ve Realized in Raising Young Children
There’s a lot of stuff flowing around in my newsfeed about what you should and shouldn’t be doing with your children. Articles about how much screen time your child should have, what they should or shouldn’t be eating, when they should or shouldn’t be potty trained, who they should or shouldn’t be hanging out with and more.
I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel intense pressure and fear that I’m not getting it right. I’m screwing up because I’m not doing “this” or “that.” Half the time, I’m just trying to make it to the next day.
As someone who already struggles at times toward legalism, I gravitate toward the do’s and don’ts. And sometimes I sadly take pride in it.
After having my fourth child however my views have changed a lot. I’ve become more laid back realizing that my “list” isn’t always God’s agenda. My daughter Rebekah was fully potty trained at 3 1/2 and it was a long journey. It was never on my timetable no matter how much I prodded. My firstborn, John, was fully potty trained just before he was 4. And our super laid back third child, Hannah, basically trained herself at 2. We rarely had to do any prodding with her and we had very helpful preschool teachers that encouraged her. Will (in the photo above) is 2 and we have no idea when it will click for him.
Sometimes my kids eat macaroni, hot dogs, and non-organic popsicles. Sometimes they play with kids at our local park that live in the affordable housing near it. Yep, and sometimes they hear cuss words from them too.
I get it though. I want to protect them as much as I can. I want them to be healthy. I want them to be on time developmentally. I desire for them to be contributors, not burdens to society. I pray daily that they will be a light in the darkness. I pray that they will not follow the broad path that leads to destruction and death. I really want them behaving well and for their hearts to know right from wrong. I want to be present with them and enjoy them as young babies. And most of all, I want them to follow Jesus and all his ways.
I’ve found so much freedom though in letting go of control, my do’s and don’ts, and letting God guide our family. I’ve found freedom in flexibility and moderation. I confess that we do watch Netflix when I’m cooking meals. Otherwise my house would burn down. We eat our vegetables and sometimes we splurge on sweets. I know the news and writers out there mean well in the parenting articles. I’ve probably written a well-meaning article and I’m sure a reader has felt he or she hasn’t measured up in some way. Most of the time those articles are written to help us be better parents and I think that’s great.
But my point is to encourage you as a parent to live in freedom, not chained to the do’s and don’ts regarding the smaller things. To live in moderation because it is possible. To not feel guilty because you’re doing a great job and the best you know how. If you’re a Christ follower, rest assured that the Holy Spirit will convict you when you’ve been on the iPhone too long, need to shut the electronics off, or need to have your son say goodbye to his rough-on-the-edges friend at the park.
The Holy Spirit will convict you when you’re not leading well as a parent. And He can change you in that struggle toward anger, control, or whatever it may be. Be patient with yourself.
God is molding all our families in different ways and He is the One who is sovereign over all the details. I know I’ll read another article where I won’t feel like I measure up, but I hope to remember the truth that I only need to look to the Lord first for help and direction.
And I really do have the ability to live freely as I love and disciple my children. I can rest in the truth that they know I love them.