Tea & Truth

Facing the Stresses and Expectations of Parenting

Sep 18, 2017

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Parenting is hard. I may not have kids (yet), but I do have eyes. The thought of raising children to be kind, well-rounded, God-fearing, productive members of society seems daunting. After all, raising children is the greatest stewardship a parent can have.

“Train up a child
in the way he should go:
and when he is old,
he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

As I watch today’s American families, I’m struck by how busy everyone is. And busyness seems to be stress’s best friend. They walk hand-in-hand, ready to pounce on unsuspecting people who just want to live life well.

There isn’t too much in life we can control (thank you, almighty God), but we can choose how we fill up our schedules. And boy, do we know how to fill up every available hour. I think that’s where having expectations comes in. We like to picture ourselves as the perfect moms, balancing Billy’s soccer practice, Sarah’s piano lessons, and our own Thursday night Bible study. Not to mention homework, play dates, school events, church functions, going to the gym, and more. These things are necessary to our success! Or so we think.

Elisabeth Elliot, late missionary and public speaker, wrote, “If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to him and ask him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.” Perhaps God has a different definition of what activities will bring about success than our culture does. It doesn’t hurt to ask Him! He wants us to!

I think there’s more to stress than just having a busy schedule. May I suggest that while they are incredibly convenient, smart phones add to our stress levels? They allow us to be easily accessible for everyone’s “immediate needs” not just via phone call or text, but through email and multiple social media venues – and we get notifications for every single point of contact. And not only are we accessible, but people get offended if we don’t respond to them within whatever time frame they deem appropriate. How incredibly draining and stressful is that!?

Having boundaries is important. And we shouldn’t have to feel guilty for having them. We put them there for our own protection. Jim Elliot, martyred missionary and husband to Elisabeth, said, “Wherever you are, be all there; live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” To me, smart phones and busy schedules can easily interfere with that. And then, we’re left with the stress.

Here’s the thing: when moms feel stressed, their kids can become stressed (if they aren’t already from overfull schedules and high expectations at school both academically and socially – it’s tough being a kid!). Once-talkative kids become taciturn. Kids who are normally reticent act out. Maybe they even stop eating. They don’t know how to communicate their emotions yet, so their stress emerges in other forms. That’s why it’s so important to deal with the stress initially before the frustration spills over onto them.

If we keep our schedules so jam-packed, it makes it hard to find peaceful, quality time to connect with kids. These are the moments when biblical family values can be delivered. These are the moments that become precious memories. These are the moments that build character, producing kind, well-rounded, God-fearing, productive members of society.

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,
and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down,
and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7

My husband likes to remind me that I have the same 24-hours in a day that everyone else does. If I’m seeking God first, everything He has for me will work out (Matthew 6:33). There’s no judgment in that. Rather, freedom.

Maybe you’re finding out that you can’t live up to your own expectations or the expectations of others, whether they’re real or perceived. That’s okay. Know that you aren’t alone. Everyone has bad days. Let go of any shame, and stop comparing yourself to other moms on social media. Give yourself some grace, whatever that may tangibly look like. God does, so we should, too! It’s His opinion that matters most.

Moms, how have you dealt with it when life brings you stress? Share in the comments below!

Jessie Chamberlain
Family Radio Staff

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