Sometimes as parents, it’s easy to check out, hand over a device, immerse ourselves in ours, and escape for a while. Of course, we all need a break now and then and as an occasional intervention, this is okay.
But if it is a COPING strategy, it’s time to make some changes. Why? Because when parents throw in the towel, things quickly deteriorate.
Biblical basis for keeping at it
In Judges 2:10, we read, “After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.” All it took was one generation of parents to check out and their kids forgot all about God. They didn’t remember the rescue from Egypt. The parting of the Red Sea. The manna in the dessert. The sandals not wearing out. Nothing. The parents had dropped the ball. They didn’t pass on what they knew of God, and the results for Israel were disastrous.
Yes, parenting is an exhausting, relentless endeavor. We need all the help we can get to stay strong and stay engaged. If you have found that you have just been letting things slide lately, here are a few tips to help you muster up the resources and courage to get your parenting back on track.
How to get your parenting back on track:
1) Take care of yourself
Get good sleep. Eat at regular intervals. Exercise. I know that everyone says these things are important. But there’s a reason for that: because it works. It is virtually impossible to stay engaged with the hard work of parenting when you are exhausted, hungry or feeling lousy.
What is one change you could make in your daily routines that might help address your need for sleep, exercise, rest and good nutrition? Even just one small change can make a big difference.
2) Eliminate some drains in your life and add more faucets
If you just can’t find time for good sleep, exercise and healthy eating habits, take a personal assessment. Where are you spending a lot of your time? Are there activities that can be trimmed out? What are the things in your life that fill you up? What people, activities and events drain you? You cannot eliminate all drains in your life, but the key is to have enough faucets to balance out (or ideally, exceed the drains). You may have to say no to people who expect you to say yes to. That’s okay.
You can read this post on reasons why you woke up one morning and found your life to be too full.
When the faucets in your life outnumber the drains, you will have enough reserves to keep parenting, even when it is hard.
3) Get support
Who do you have in your life that you can rely on to be a listening ear not matter what you are facing? Do you have at least one person who can be a mentor, a confidant, a friend? If not, it’s time to prioritize a relationship that allows someone the ability to be the hands and feet of Jesus to you.
Maybe there are deep issues that need to be addressed. If so, it may be time for you to find a counselor that can help you work through the issues that are keeping you stuck and unable to fully engage with your children.
Having even just one person in your life that you can pick up the phone and unburden your heart to can give you the strength to keep on parenting, even when you don’t feel like it.
(Side note: if this article does not apply to you, God may be calling you to be that support person to someone else. Pray about it.)
4) Ask for prayer
Have you ever noticed in Bible studies that when prayer time rolls around, most people ask for prayer for other people in their lives? Asking for prayer can make us feel vulnerable and exposed. It can sometimes make the people around us feel uncomfortable. That is why it is so important to find a small group, or just one person, with whom you can open up, be honest and share the truth. We are meant (designed in fact) to do life with other people.
Prayer is powerful and can give you the strength you need to stay engaged with your kids. Tap into the power of prayer in the body of Christ.
5) Tell your kids what you are up to
Depending upon the age of your children, you may even decide to tell your kids your plan. You can say something like, “I really have been a bit checked out lately, haven’t I? I am sorry. I’ve let things slide when I should have stood firm. It’s because I am weary. But I am going to take a few steps to change that. There may be times when I still let things slide and there will be times when I hold you accountable. It may feel inconsistent, but I am trying to get back on track. Thanks for understanding.”
You can do it
I recently read a comment on facebook where a mother admitted that she wished she had stayed single and not had any children. She said she would have been happier. I have to wonder if she had more faucets, more support, a prayer partner, and felt physically healthier if her answer would be different.
Don’t let parenting become something you regret. There is no greater challenge in your life. But there is no greater reward. God did not make a mistake when He put you and your children together as a family. God will always give you the strength to do what He has called you to do.
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him.” (1 Tim 1:12)