I’m tired of Saturdays consumed by soccer games. My evenings revolve around baseball practice, basketball games, student ministry small groups and PTA meetings. Loud talking and yelling fill the air at family meals. Afternoons consist of required reading, math assignments and spelling tests. My life would be so easy if it weren’t for my kids.
Often these are the cries and whines of my heart when it comes to my children. Grab some of these soundbites and all you would hear is the sound of me complaining about parenting and children. While I say I love them, you sure can’t tell it by the complaints from this father of four.
A few months ago I wrote a post on For The Family called “What Can You and I Do To Help Premarried Couples?” The basic premise and main challenge of the post revolves around our need as married couples to change the way we speak about marriage. If all we talk about is how hard it is, then why would any young couple want to get married? Instead of helping resolve the marriage problem of our world, Christian couples often make the problem worse by complaining about all the challenges of marriage. We can help premarried couples by talking about not just how hard it is, but how great it really can be.
Today I write in a similar vein, but instead of talking about marriage, I want to focus on parenting. If all we do is talk about how hard parenting is and how challenging our children can be, then why would we expect young married couples to want to have children? If all they hear about are the busy schedules, the demands of school and the lack of freedom, then why would any couple want to do their part to multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28)?
The discussion has to start with what God says about children. A quick look in the gospels shows us Jesus’ great love for children (Matthew 18:1-5, Matthew 19:13-14, Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:15-17). Jesus wanted the children to come to Him, He prayed for the children and He loves them. In spite of the reaction of the disciples and others, Jesus always welcomed children.
We also need to look at what the Psalmist says about children in Psalm 127:3-5:
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
Solomon says children are a heritage (gift, blessing) from the Lord.
God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that He loves children and they are a gift from the Lord. Therefore, many of us need to change our tune in the way we speak about children.
What problems arise when we don’t speak rightly about children?
1. Friends: If we’re not careful about the way we talk about our kids, our friends will choose not to have any! Why would any couple want to get pregnant, foster or adopt children if all they hear is how hard parenting can be?
2. Discouragement: If we always talk negatively in front of our spouse, how would they feel? In the same way, we can discourage our children if they always hear us speak about them in a negative light.
3. Infertility: I know a bunch of couples who would love the opportunity to parent your difficult children but can’t have biological children of their own. While they can adopt or foster children, many couples struggle with infertility and I know that our consistent whining does not encourage them. Many of these couples would love to have our problems.
Instead of always talking about the downside of parenting and children, try the following:
1. Remember as a parent, you are fulfilling the Great Commission with your children by making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). It’s a privilege to be a part of making disciples in the local church. But, it’s even more fun to make them in my home!
2. Be different than the pattern of the world (Romans 12:2). Instead of complaining about your kids, try talking about the positive aspects of parenting.
3. Remember children are fun! As parents, Kristen and I laugh so much and often with our kids. We make memories together. We shoot hoops, do puzzles and go to movies together. We work together as a team to raise our boys to follow Jesus and enjoy most (not all) aspects of it.
4. My children reveal some of my sin patterns. I remember how selfish and self-centered I can be. They remind me of my need for a Savior. They provide a mirror to my depravity and help me see where I fall short.
I believe when we learn to speak about our children in a positive, uplifting light, and when we see them as a heritage (gift) from the Lord instead of a burden, couples will respond in a different way. They will choose to get pregnant, foster, or adopt. More couples will get the chance to make disciples in the home.
I would never encourage a married couple to hide the challenges of parenting. That would not be honest or authentic. But, when all we do is complain about them, then couples will choose to not have kids. Rather, what if we chose to focus on the fact that children are a heritage from the Lord. If we did, I think we’d have a much greater impact on our friends, our kids and our world than we could ever realize.
For the Family,
Scott Kedersha, www.scottkedersha.com