“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom you may be tucking in bed each night.” -Wes Stafford
Here is what I remember of my every days as a child:
Bologna sandwhiches and Full House.
Having to play cars with my brother.
Picking up sticks.
Washing the bathtub.
Mac & Cheese or Beefaroni dinners.
Eating alone, while watching T.V.
Playing with friends.
Playing alone in my room.
I have no recollection of any intentional time being spent on me as a child. Time that involved teaching me, nurturing my soul, walking alongside me, explaining life in gentle, age-appropriate ways, engaging with my life and my thoughts and my troubles. This isn’t a slam on my parents so much as it is a commentary to how many families “raise” their children, not knowing how to parent intentionally, being tired or overwhelmed, or too busy, or who knows what. The problem is, I want to raise my kids; I want to guide them and teach them and walk with them and talk with them and get all Deuteronomy with them. Because it matters.
But y’all, I’m floundering most of the time. I have no model, no memories to pull from, no anchors, no memorials. I don’t say this to have an excuse, I say this as fact. It is now my responsibility to change my family legacy, and I’m while I’m a fast learner, I’m a slow doer, because it’s all new-for-me “doing.”
Last week, it dawned on me that since my children became old enough to manage most daily tasks on their own, I’ve been a mostly passive parent. I let them watch T.V. when they want (because they know how to put on a movie), grab snacks, play, and generally make it through the day with really needing me. And that’s the thing, kids can survive without parents in the everyday. Many kids are doing just that all over the world, because they have to. Some are just simply neglected and left to essentially raise themselves while mom is busy doing whatever she’s doing either in the home or outside it (stay-at-home moms aren’t exempt – they can be too busy online or cleaning or doing crafts or whatever that keeps them from engaging). My kiddos were on that trajectory, because I thought they were fine. But friends, kids aren’t fine left to idle time without mom or a caregiver around. They need us; they need our guiding and interrupting and boundaries and they should not be responsible for themselves.
Playing is good. Playing without it being observable or interruptible isn’t good.
Children being capable of taking care of themselves is good. Children being capable of taking care of themselves without any instruction, responsibility or loving guidance isn’t good.
If we want to raise emotionally and spiritually healthy children that turn into emotionally and spiritually healthy adults, we have got to give our time to the work. Children will have enough battles to face, enough tragedy to deal with, and enough junk that the very least…no, the very best and kind and good and responsible thing to do is to help them through their life, which is of course by being their and guiding and investing in their days. This is our opportunity; parenting is kingdom work.
And while we can only lead so far (we cannot save a soul), we can be around. We can be intentional. We can give of ourselves in order to protect and nurture and love and raise our children well (not perfectly, of course) for the glory of God and for their own sake, so they can walk in this world free and secure.
Moms, parents, we need to do the work. Who else will?