Most parents struggle with priorities. It doesn’t matter if you have one child or several kids, orchestrating a balanced life sometimes seems next to impossible. Juggling housework, job, kids, homework, activities, and a spouse is enough to make anyone’s life seem thrown off kilter at times. Add to that a kid who isn’t fairing well in his current circumstances and emotionally we’re pulled toward that child over the rest of the family.
I would know. Living a balanced life with four kids under my roof was a challenge for me. I not only believed some of the lies that permeate our culture but I could also put that struggling child’s needs first as well as easily get wrapped up in the spotlight of the successful child’s endeavors.
Here are some of the lies I embraced as well as others I am seeing parents put into action:
- My job is to create a happy life for my kids.
- I need to offer my kids every opportunity to be all they can be.
- I need to watch every game, recital, or activity to let my kids know that I’m here for them.
- I should put all my energy into the kids since they’ll be gone before I know it.
- I can “fix” the child who is struggling if I just try harder.
- I’m the mom, I know what’s best for my child better than anyone else, including my husband.
Whatever plays out in your parenting, know that these are lies the enemy would love us to embrace. If we do, we’ll be exhausted and so child-focused that there will be no hope of balance, especially as our kids move into the teen years. We can become so enamored with each new stage of discovery with them reliving our own childhood or we can become so focused with the fear of what they will choose that we become the overzealous parent trying to keep that child from crossing the lines. Either way, balance will be skewed.
But where does that leave our marriage? Does our spouse fall outside the priority box because of our parenting? Do we choose to prioritize our kid’s needs, desires, or whims, over the person who should be our soulmate?
It is easy to become so kid centered in our parenting that our spouse can sit on the sidelines barely on our radar. There are moments when you pass in the wind telling the other person that you’ll see them at the end of the 18 year kid commitment. “They’ll be off on their own before you know it” becomes yet another lie that we believe as we push our relationship with our spouse into some far off future.
Do we take time to cultivate our relationship as two parents working side by side or do we bark orders and cast blame when it comes to how our spouse interacts with the kids?
Our family has been under a tremendous amount of stress over the past several months. Not only did we lose our daughter suddenly, but I have a son who has been in tremendous physical pain with no medical answers. Finances have been challenging due to expenses we could never have begun to anticipate. Tension has been high. Yet, peace is permeating my thoughts. I recognize it as a peace that can only come from God. But yet I’ve gained a new awareness that the peace also stems from somewhere else–someone else. That peace comes in knowing that my soulmate is here to soothe the anxiety in my soul. We’re on the same page with the goal of running the race, together.
The thing I want to communicate is that as your kids move into junior high and high school, there will be conflict. Chances are that you and your spouse will have very different ideas on what your children should and should not be allowed to do. It puts pressure on the family, especially the marriage. If your spouse is not a priority and if you’ve not begun communicating early about how the two of you will navigate those rocky roads of the parenting journey, then not only will the parenting lies have you focused on the wrong priorities, but your marriage will most likely come under attack.
1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
As I look around today at the stress on parents to have perfect kids or kids who at least think like their parents do, it is no wonder that divorce is high. Add to that the number of parents who are worried about potential issues of alcohol, drugs, pregnancy, cutting, same-sex relationships, suicide, and a host of other issues that plague our kids today, it’s no wonder that our lives are out of balance.
Dare you to looks at the balance in this stage of your life. Focus on becoming a united team as husband and wife as you parent your kids. By doing so you will not only have someone to grow old with once the kids have moved out, but you’ll be modeling balance and a good marriage to a generation that needs to know that a successful marriage is possible even when trouble comes.
“Let go…and let God”,
If it is time for you to make a concerted effort to parent together, why not start with With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tweens . It is a great book to start the parenting discussion on 40 different parenting topics.
Or, if your husband won’t participate, then try getting a group of moms together. You’ll find ways to encourage each other whether dad is involved in your kid’s lives or if you are parenting alone. Either way, we know that your relationship with your teens and tweens will be more fulfilling than it is today.