New Year's Dreams for My Kiddos

January 4, 2016


No one told me the tears I would secretly shed over these little-ish bodies, these souls whose care my husband and I have been entrusted with for such a short/long time.

There are days when I lay my head upon my pillow with a contented sigh, knowing that I rocked it, that I hit the grand-slam, that I was on my parenting A-game that day.

And then there are the remaining 360 days (not really, but it seems like it sometimes!) of the year when I wonder whether we were are on the right track, whether we are handling discipline with the correct balance of sternness and grace, whether we are balancing jobs and family and activities and everything else in the proper ratios.

I find myself constantly evaluating, adjusting, readjusting, experimenting and then course-correcting on my motherhood journey.

And that is okay.

I've realized that to be a parent is to live with a constant tension about how to do it better.

And while I don't particularly like New Year's resolutions, I work best with goals. I need a standard against which to measure whether I'm moving, even in baby steps, in the right direction.

Although I've learned to hold my parenting goals loosely and with flexibility, I still set them and use them as reference points, least I get completely lost in the daily jungle of dirty clothes, homework and lost mittens.

In celebration of a new year and a clean slate, I'm sharing a few of my current parenting goals:  

Thou Shalt Not Compare. Children are different. Families are different. What works for them doesn’t necessarily work for us.

I don't know about you, but I have an extra special gift for comparing another mom’s best, most shiny parenting moment with my secret, worst moment. Whenever I begin to compare, I remind myself that I long ago jumped off this particular roller coaster, especially since I've intentionally rigged it so that I can never win.

Praying Together. I love to pray for others, but I don't regularly include my kids in that process because: 1) it's often while I'm in the shower, driving down the road or during other random quick, quiet moments, and 2) inviting my children into that spiritual space takes time, effort and can quickly devolve into chaos and arguing - something that looks nothing like the sweet image of a family with heads bowed that I envision.

While I'll still handle much of it in the shower, behind the wheel and in other random places, I am committed to invite my children into this spiritual space. It’s okay if it’s messy and crazy and filled with chaos; Jesus hears those prayers just as surely as he hears the beautiful ones. If I want my children to understand the beauty of lifting up another in prayer, it's up to me to show them what it looks like, sounds like, feels like.

Exploring faith. After careful thought, my husband and I enrolled our kids in a local AWANA program, primarily because of the focus on learning scripture. But Sunday school and AWANA are not a substitute to our parental responsibility to share the why and how and what of Jesus.

My husband and I know our kids better than anyone else, and we know both what they need and what they are capable of understanding. This is not a subject that can or should be out-sourced, even if we think others might have more education or experience.

Starting this week, my kids and I are embarking upon a new adventure in which we will look at the 320 "clues" sprinkled liberally throughout the Old Testament foretelling the Messiah - and how Jesus fulfilled all 320 clues. If this goes well, I'll share my game plan for Bible Detective. If it is an abysmal failure, well, I'll think of something new to try.

The point in each of these goals is the effort and the journey. When, not if, life gets busy and we fall away from these, at least we have a place to return to and pickup where we left off. No guilt, no recriminations.

I’d love to hear some of your current parenting goals in the comments!

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