I have never been so unprepared and naïve as I was when I stepped into parenting. If you’re honest, you probably had the same experience.
We set out on this journey of parenthood with dreams of sweet cuddle sessions, teaching them how to ride a bike or play catch, and creating those picture-perfect moments to post on Instagram. We want kids that love Jesus, treat others kindly, and stand up for what’s right.
So innocent, yet so ignorant.
Raising kids is exhausting. The day to day tasks and details can be overwhelming, especially when you add more than one child to the mix. Our kids are constantly developing and growing; learning to walk and talk, being nice and learning to share, forming character, and disciplining are time-consuming and emotionally exhausting. This doesn’t even include the drama that comes in middle and high school!
If we’re not careful, the day-to-day battles can cause us to lose sight of the dreams we once had for our kids. In our naivety, before reality set in, we thought we knew how parenthood would play out and what our children would be like and turn into. But as soon as our children were born, all those fantasies came crashing down.
So how do we make this work? How can we survive the day-to-day while still holding on to those dreams?
We play the long game.
This is the key. Our focus can’t be on the day to day – that’s defeating because we get trapped in cycles of constant struggles and defeat that we feel will never end. If you’ve potty trained a child, you know exactly what I’m talking about!
Instead, we need to keep looking ahead, at the end goal and the dreams we have for our kids in 10, 20, and 30 years down the road. This is what helps us get through the day-to-day. Here are 3 things we need to help:
Don’t overcomplicate things. Our prayers for our kids’ lives will have an eternal impact…unless those prayers never happen. We should be pleading to our Heavenly Father every day for our kids.
Pray for their future, that they one day they would believe in and follow Jesus and have a life that listens to His Spirit. Pray for their character and the way they love and treat other people, for their future spouse and children. Don’t let the list end there and keep these prayers consistent.
Don’t forget to pray for yourself, either. It’s okay to pray for wisdom as you learn how to parent your child! One of my biggest prayers is that my parenting will be a good reflection of who God is; when my kids see me, they see Him too.
Prayers have the potential to be the most impactful thing we can do for our kids.
Kids are kids. I have to constantly remind myself of this. When a three-year-old is acting up, remember – it’s his job to act up. He’s three! Be patient when they make messes and disobey, they’re still learning. Something that’s helped me is the perspective of God’s patience, grace, and forgiveness for me. He is the perfect parent and sets a great example for us.
This can be tricky. Don’t let patience turn into passiveness. Even in the tough times, we still have to parent and lead our children. They have to know when they’re doing something wrong. This is where character is developed. Let the kids be kids, but there are lines we have to draw that can’t be crossed.
When the hard seasons hit, stay tough! Lean in and keep fighting. Continue seeking wisdom from God and others but stay persistent in your leadership and parenting.
The goal in parenting isn’t to make our kids do what we want them to do, it’s about making them who we want our kids to become. That’s what parenting is – playing the long game.
What our kids end up doing for a living isn’t what matters. The most important thing is who they become. Of course, this first happens through God’s Word and by His Spirit, but we are the ones He has entrusted them with as partners in this Kingdom mission. It’s not the church, society, or friends they grow up with that will determine the course of their life and the person they become. Rather, it’s by God and through us. Who they become will be a result of the way we parent and lead them, partnered with God’s life-transforming power.
You’ve got this! Keep praying, be patient, and stay persistent. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It will take time, but play the long game and you’ll be on the right track.