The young mother-to-be listened to her friend “Courtney” with growing dismay as she listed a long litany of complaints about the difficulties of parenting.
“Get ready for lack of sleep,” Courtney warned. “Get ready for temper tantrums. Just wait until they can talk back.”
Finally, Courtney concluded, “Oh, but I wouldn’t trade having kids for anything.”
The other young woman wondered, Are you sure? Because parenting sounds pretty miserable!
If you find yourself experiencing far more stress and hardship than joy in raising children, here’s a little secret:
It doesn’t have to be that way.
You can improve things for yourself and your children in two important ways:
First, you can change your own perspective on parenting.
Second, you can take specific steps to make parenting easier and more enjoyable.
We’ll cover the first principle in this post, because mindset plays a huge role in your parental joy level.
God ordained families, and he always refers to children as a blessing (Psalm 127:3-5). This is a premise of which you’ve got to intentionally remind yourself every day.
Children are a reward.
No matter how many sleepless nights you endure, no matter how unruly your toddler is today, no matter how overwhelmed you may feel at this particular moment, God’s word is still true.
Sometimes difficulty puts us in a state of cognitive dissonance. Perhaps right now, you agree that God’s word is true, but parenting just seems really, really hard.
If that’s the case, it’s super important (and helpful) to rule over your own spirit and your own tongue really well. Scripture tells us:
“The tongue has the power of life and death…” –Proverbs 18:21
“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” –Proverbs 25:28
When you are tempted to vent your frustrations about how hard it is to raise kids, practice self-restraint in what you allow yourself to believe and to say.
Here are some helpful guidelines for guarding your thoughts and your words:
- Talk to God privately. He can handle your heart’s cry; in fact, he wants to hear it. He is available to help you, but he does want you to ask. While you parent your children, God is parenting you.
- Don’t verbalize your parental struggles to your children. Unlike God, they are not big enough to understand, they cannot help you, and your negative remarks will only wound them.
- Get good counsel, not just commiseration. Sympathy from other young parents has its place, but you need a lot more than that. You need good sources of godly wisdom.
- Speak life over your family. Say things like, “Children are a blessing” aloud in front of your kids on purpose (and don’t say things like “You kids drive me crazy!”) Practice self-control, which is part of the fruit of the Spirit, so that you don’t allow your family fortress to become vulnerable to spiritual attack.
Changing your perspective on parenting will set the tone in your home and increase your enjoyment of family life.
In another post, we’ll talk about specific steps you can take to make your parenting journey more enjoyable. For now, I’ll leave you with this:
When my own kids were little, I heard plenty of negative predictions about parenting. Kids are nothing but trouble. Just wait until those awful teenage years. And so on.
Amidst all that prophesying of doom and gloom, I remember my mother-in-law saying, “Children bring you so much joy!”
I made a conscious decision to believe her. And you know what? She was absolutely right.
Holding my newest-born grandson today, with a heart full of wonderful family memories, I can testify wholeheartedly:
Children are a very great reward.