The Tall Order:
Here at HolyOatmeal.com I am trying to get a hold of some ideas, thoughts, resources etc. which we can all benefit from. Things which will frankly help us to help our kids really want to follow Jesus all the days of their lives.
That’s quite a tall order, but it seems like an essential one. In fact, while some parents are signing their kids up to advanced schooling programs, private sports leagues, expensive tutoring, etc. and all before the age of 6, I’m just hoping my kids don’t end up on some clock tower one day with a long range rifle (unless of course they are participating in some new Olympic sport). I happen to believe THE thing is to point my kids as much as possible back to God. I want them to see the relevance of the Bible, the church and Christ, not just so they can be pastors one day, but so they can have a life filled with the good things which come from living rightly.
Now I know not all of you reading this are Christians but I know we share a common vision of hoping for the best for our kids. I know we all can agree that we want to foster an environment at home where our kids feel safe, good about themselves, confident, and inspired to help their fellow man. These are good common goals to have. So, why do I suck at trying to reach these goals? Here are my top 5 reasons
Reason 1: It turns out I’m really pretty selfish: I’m not a big fan of having to do what is uncomfortable. I have found that when I’m laying down on the couch I don’t really want to get up to help with the kids, or to put away the dishes, or to answer the door or to go to the bathroom. The big surprise is being a stellar parent requires unselfishness. Dern. I was actually having multiple kids so I could have more free employees around the house-unfortunately it turns out it takes several years before the kids are actually that helpful.
Reason 2: I find listening to children quite a chore: I don’t know if you are aware of this, but kids can do some annoying things. Have you ever had a 4 year old trying to tell you a “quick” story? Man! It can take forever. I once had to sit through what seemed like half an hour of “Hey dad. Hey dad. Did you know that….Hey dad, hey dad. Did you know that the one guy at the thing….Hey dad….”
I have actually developed quite a skill at listening to talk radio in the car while my kid is telling me all the unknown secrets of Star Wars. I am able to offer up strategically placed, “uh huh.” “that’s nice.” “yeah, that was funny when Padme did that.” while still catching up on the latest political firestorms.
Reason 3: It’s the little things which bother me the most: I can’t stand the fighting, the mess, the ruined (fill in the blank) the getting up out of bed 15 times, the spills, the toys left outside, the massive amounts of laundry, the cereal all over the floor, the bathrooms that look like a tornado came through, the broken windows, the table that snapped in two, the lack of wiling babysitter, the inability to go see a movie I want to see anymore….
Reason 4: I am a small angry man: Nothing quite like starting family devotions only to end up yelling at everybody to shut up and sit down because we’re going to spend some time with Jesus. I can assure you my kids are all going to heaven because I scared the Hell right out of them. Our family devotions have crumbled into a combo of Bible verses and idle threats. It doesn’t take long to go from Spiritual idealism to flesh driven frustration.
Reason 5: I don’t know what the heck I’m doing: You would think after 6 kids I would have a clue. But it seems like each kid only shines more light on how unaware I really am. I just figured out they all have different personalities (and different names too). None of them respond to my parenting the same. I’m pretty sure half of them are plotting against me most of the time. My dreams of wearing a nice sweater vest, smoking a pipe and handing out fatherly advice seems all but gone – although I have considered taking up smoking several times, but not a pipe.
What to do about it: While this post just might be a bit of hyperbole, it’s definitely easy to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, unprepared and lazy at times. Sometime I just don’t want to parent. I want to check out and run away. What do I do in times like this? 1. Visit Walmart- always helps give me a fresh new perspective on how great of a parent I really am. 2. Chill out and take a walk. If I’m frustrated and the kids are pushing my limits it’s OK to get some fresh air and clear my head and pray. 3. Begin to thank God out loud. A lot of frustration comes from an ungrateful heart. Often I need to begin to speak thanksgiving for all the blessings we have as a family. 4. Learn to enjoy my family. Instead of trying to institute some stodgy religious exercises we need to celebrate God’s goodness. I need to let the kids dance, shout, move, sing, laugh as worship to God. We aren’t running a seminary but a family who loves Jesus with our whole being.
I may suck at parenting but…I have a heavenly Father who loves me a whole bunch and has been modeling how I need to express my love to my kids. This is radical love that goes way out of it’s own way to get a hold of those around it and make them feel special. Life is not about a perfect bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, backyard, but about a perfect God loving some pretty imperfect people because he wants to. Maybe I can start doing the same. : )