Parenting is hard! There, I said it. But, it is also beautiful, sanctifying, fun, and holy work. I believe it can help the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in our lives, especially joy. So, how do you enjoy parenting?
My goal with this blog, Parenting with Joy, is to help you experience joy in your parenting by making you think in new ways, equipping you with strategies, encouraging you to play, and pointing you to God.
Does God Want Us to Enjoy Parenting?
I have heard many parents say, “I love my kids, but I don’t love parenting.” It breaks my heart because I do think God wants us to enjoy parenting. Ecclesiastes 11:8 reads, “However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all.” (NIV) Are you enjoying the years of parenting?
I don’t mean each and every moment, but the years. In parenting, you don’t need to enjoy the meltdowns, backtalk, whining, picky eating, and siblings fighting. But, do you enjoy the years? The big picture?
Do you look back with a smile and a prayer of gratitude? Or, do you spend each day living for naps and bedtime?
Now, I admit, I have my fair share of days where I question whether I can make it to bedtime or not. I have spent time crying on the kitchen floor, begging God to help me be the mama my girls deserve. Yet, outside of the moments of desperation, I love being a mom.
I think that is what Solomon meant. God wants us to love the years, not necessarily all the little moments. When we look at the big picture, the grand scheme of things, love that! Enjoy that!
Jesus offers us abundant life in John 10:10 and Psalm 16:11 reminds us that God “reveal[s] the path of life to me; in [His] presence is abundant joy” (CSB).
Why is Parenting So Hard for Me?
Parenting is hard, but why? Because we are imperfect humans raising imperfect humans. We are still learning and growing, being sanctified, and becoming more like Jesus. Then we throw in little, or medium-sized kids, who know even less, have less self-control, and their brains don’t fully work yet! That is a recipe for hard.
But, as Christians, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit. He guides, gives wisdom, and comforts us. Sometimes, but because parenting is so hard and feels so urgent, sometimes the gift just sits on the shelf waiting to used.
Or, sometimes, our time spent with God gets compartmentalized and not merged with our parenting.
We run around on our own strength trying to be perfect Christian parents. When what Jesus really wants is to be invited in. He doesn’t want us to parent for Him. He wants us to parent with Him.
A very wise 19-year-old friend, with no kids, once told me that Christian parenting should be easier than any other parenting because we have the Holy Spirit. Yes and amen!
When Does Parenting Get Less Exhausting?
My oldest is just 10 and my youngest is newly 3. I also have three more in the middle. So, I get parenting being exhausting. Yet, I know the days that feel the least exhausting are the days when I am leaning on God more and intentionally enjoying the life and blessings He has given me.
I have more energy and confidence when I am focused on parenting with Him, rather than for culture. Trying to please society drains me and adds to my exhaustion. But, His strength shines through when I try to live into Galatians 1:10 (NLT), “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
Parenting gets less exhausting when we are not doing it in our own strength, power, and wisdom. When we ask God to join us in the mess, in the celebrations, and in the mundane everyday tasks.
It also helps when we learn to ask others for help. If asking for help is hard for you, begin by asking for prayers. Then you can start to ask for other little things. Building this skill will help you to be able to ask for help when bigger things in life start to crumble.
3 Simple Strategies to Enjoy Parenting
Finally, I think we can enjoy parenting more when we are looking to God for what our role of parenting actually is. So often we let culture define what it means to be a parent, instead of looking to the one who created parents.
As I look to the Lord for what He wants me to do as a parent, I hear three simple things based on Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
“Listen, people of Israel! The Lord is our God. He is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength. Always remember these commands I give you today. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and walk along the road. Talk about them when you lie down and when you get up. Write them down and tie them to your hands as a sign. Tie them on your forehead to remind you. Write them on your doors and gates.”
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ICB
These three things to enjoy parenting are:
- Love – my relationship with the Lord comes first.
- Teach – I have the privilege to guide my children in what it means to live as a follower of Jesus, loving God, and loving others.
- Play – honor God’s design of child development and give my children an opportunity to experience the joy and abundant life offered by Christ in developmentally appropriate ways.
I encourage you to spend some time praying and reflecting on a verse to guide your parenting. For more on this idea, check out this post.
Now, God might guide you to a different verse and define your parenting a little differently if you ask Him. That’s okay! I don’t claim to know how to be your kids’ parent. But, God does and He would love to join you on that journey with all the adventure, challenges, and joy that it involves.