Have you ever told your preschool child to clean a messy room? If your kids are like my child was at that age, you often end up hearing “I don’t know how!” “It’s too hard.” “I tried (said in a room that looks no different from before it was “cleaned”.)
As I glance through social media, I often hear a lot of buzz about “mommy shaming”. Usually, it seems to be in the context of “How dare you try to tell me how to parent my child! Who do you think you are?” “It’s too hard/unrealistic to parent like that.” “I’m trying my best, so leave me alone.” While I am sure some bloggers are pretentious or condescending, I think focusing on the concept of mommy shaming distracts us from the real battle in parenting.
You see, the real problem in our Christian parenting journey is not bloggers, experts or little old ladies. It is the age old problem of our selfish desires getting in the way of what God calls us to do. I would start listing scripture references, but there are so many about our selfish desires and the ways they separate us from God and what He wants from us and for us, it’s almost like it’s our number one problem!
Why do our selfish desires make Christian parenting so difficult? Because the Christian parenting that God calls us to do is hard. Yes. You read that right. Quality Christian parenting is really, really hard. And it takes a lot of time. And it takes a lot of work. And it takes a lot of prayer, patience and planning. And it takes putting others before ourselves. It may even mean giving up our dreams for a time in order to put our best efforts into parenting our kids towards God.
It definitely means ignoring all of those lies Satan uses the world and media to constantly repeat to us, about how fulfilling our selfish desires will make us better Christian parents. (Don’t believe me? Ever hear something like “If I’m happy, I’m a better mother?”) Or how allowing our children to explore and find their own spiritual path (evidently without parental guidance) will make them better people. Or how spending only a few minutes of quality time each day with our kids is quality and quantity enough.
I totally understand sometimes circumstances make our parenting journey less than ideal. I realize many moms have some incredible parenting challenges, that sometimes make their very existence difficult. For many of us though, we easily seek and find excuses to do less than our best at our mission of Christian parenting.
I don’t have all of the answers. I certainly don’t have the answers for your personal situation. What I do know though, is that this is one issue worth a lot of scripture reading, soul searching and prayer. I believe the Bible teaches we will be held accountable for our parenting. Not that there isn’t grace, but let’s not forget grace also requires repentance. None of us will ever be perfect parents, but striving for the ideal with God’s help is more likely to produce better results than self-indulgent parenting disguised as martyrdom.