I was the only mom at the pool that day. As I sat there with sweat rolling down my back, perched at the picnic table in the shade, laptop out, I thought about the differences between my childhood and that of my children.
I was raised by a single mom. I say that, but I did have a step dad for several years, but he was more of a guy who lived in the same house as me than a dad. We didn’t really do stuff together. He didn’t parent me. He was just there. When he and my mom divorced, the only thing that really changed was where we lived. Everything else seemed the same to me.
My mom is a teacher, always has been (and never in my school district). She left early in the morning, and got home in the late afternoon. While she was more of a free-range parent, I never questioned her love for me. I always knew I could talk to her and I trusted her.
Then vs Now
Now I’m a stay-at-home mom. My kids have me around all the time. If they forget their backpack, they call me (that doesn’t mean I bring it to them, but they know I’ll usually answer the phone).
I walked to school (nine-tenths of a mile – just a tenth of a mile short of being on the bus route), my kids get dropped off at the front door.
I spent all summer at the pool with my friends, sometimes my mom dropped me off, but I usually walked there with my sister or my friends, because my mom worked part-time at my grandma’s meat-locker out-of-town. My kids spend most of the summer at the pool too, but there I sat, watching them swim.
Yet I had a pretty great childhood (all things considered). I never lacked anything I needed. Yeah, it had it’s fair share of ups and downs. It was a bumpy road, but in hindsight, I had it pretty good. And so do my kids.
I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. I love my mom. I know she did the best that she could, and I never felt slighted. But the way I’m raising my kids is so much different. Partly because of my husband’s influence, and partly because we are just in different situations.
Parenting Styles & Family Dynamics
This is something I wish I would have realized a lot earlier in my children’s lives: I am not my mom. I’m not my best friend’s mom. I’m not a Pinterest-perfect mom. I am not a lot of moms. But that doesn’t make me a bad mom.
There are so many different parenting styles out there, and so many opinions about how to be the best mom, that we could never do them all. We just have to find what works for us and know that no matter what, our children will have ups and downs in their childhoods.
Attending ball games won’t make or break our children. (I don’t remember my mom ever coming to an away game, where as I have been to too many already).
Having our kids’ friends over, doesn’t make us a better parent than always sending them to someone else’s house. God made us all different. He made each family up with different dynamics.
There are certain truths I hope my children learn before they leave home, but I didn’t fully grasp them when I graduated high school.
We all stumble through this parenting thing. I don’t think anyone is ever fully prepared. How could they be?
My Realization & Parenting Advice
So if you are that mom that’s worried about what she’s doing, if you’re stressed out about the details, don’t be. Don’t worry about what your neighbors think or how much your child’s best friend has that they don’t. Don’t stress about missing that awards assembly.
God holds our children in His hands. Yes, we are responsible for them, but they ultimately belong to Him. Surrender them to Him, and let Him guide you through this whole parenting thing.
Stress less, pray more. That’s the best parenting advice I could ever think of.
The Gospel For Parents
My kids are getting older and they aren’t perfect, but neither am I. None of us are. That’s why Jesus came. The truth is, it’s impossible to raise perfect kids. If we could do it, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to come to die on the cross.
I don’t know what the future holds for my children, but I know that Jesus will be there for them whenever they are ready to turn to Him. I know without a shadow of a doubt that they know who He is, even if they haven’t fully grasped the wonders of His grace on a personal level yet. They have the head knowledge, and someday that can transform into heart knowledge. In God’s time.
My kids have a foundation in Jesus, that’s the best that I can do for them, from here I have to surrender them to Jesus, and trust Him with their salvation. Because He is the One who saves after all.
That’s what Jesus taught me about parenting.
My kids future doesn’t ultimately depend on me. Yes, I am responsible for giving them a solid upbringing, but even if I fail, He died for them, and He can work miracles. He can save them despite my best efforts. I’m not off the hook, but He doesn’t really need me. He is God. He created me and He created them. He has a plan for them that I can’t even begin to fathom.
So yes, I should do my best as a mom, but in the end, my kids belong to Jesus. He already knows their future. My parenting style may be different from my moms. I may not feed them enough vegetables, but Jesus is what it’s all about. And He’s already given His life for them, what more could a mother ask?
So What About You?
How did your childhood differ from that of your children’s? Are your parenting styles different than that of your parents? How does Jesus influence your parenting? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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