Friday, March 25, 2016

Parenting Beyond Your Capacity

I finished a great book this week.  I think it was especially helpful to me because it spoke to what has probably been my single biggest challenge, as an adult.  Parenting.  Can you relate?  I've moved back and forth, and everywhere in between, from thinking I'm doing alright to knowing I'm doing terrible. Again, can you relate?

Although I do struggle with parenting, the reality is that I am a proud parent of four wonderful sons. Colin and Liam are twelve, Ethan is ten and Jude is seven.  Every time I spout off that list to someone in conversation, the reaction is always the same. "Wow, four boys . . ."  Silence ensues.  The truth is, four boys is a challenge.  But, so is two girls or a girl and a boy or a single boy.  Whatever your parenting situation, it's a challenge.  There's no doubt about that.  

The book I just finished, Parenting Beyond Your Capacity, offers some hope to us struggling parents and those future strugglers, as well.  As the name implies, it does offer ways you can increase your capacity as a parent.  But contrary to what us "super-parents" tend to think, the idea here is that none of us can do it all.  Sorry.  Not you.  Not me.  While it's true that God has charged us with a great responsibility, He never mandated, or even planned for, us to do it alone.  The quote below, from the Introduction to the book, sums it up well.

"One of the reasons we're writing this book is to let you know you don't have to parent alone.  Don't misunderstand.  No one has more potential to impact your child or teenager than you.  But one of the greatest ways you can impact the life of your child is to become intentional about parenting with others who can also have an influence on your child.  If you try to parent alone, you will just become increasingly aware of your built-in flaws and risk becoming discouraged and disillusioned with parenthood."

The bottom line is that you don't have to parent your children alone.  God has blessed you and your children with a host of others who can go on that journey with you.  I can't say for sure, but I would imagine this could be particularly helpful to single parents.  Whatever you situation, please consider laying down your pride and accept - even lean on - the help offered by extended family, teachers, pastors, friends, co-workers, coaches and anyone else you think can be a positive influence in the lives of your children.  Over the years, my boys have talked of some of the above-mentioned people in much higher regard than they do about Sara or I. Hey, I understand the sting of that, given the incredible effort and sacrifice we all put in.  But it's a much better and healthier exercise to just embrace that God has blessed us with a community of people to aid in our parenting journey and help our kids grow in ways we never could.  

If you struggle with unrealistic expectations as a parent (as I do), you feel totally overwhelmed with parenting, or you just want to be a better parent, I really want to encourage you to read this book and allow its ideas to change the way you look at this incredibly important job of parenting.

I would be interested to hear what some of your biggest parenting challenges have been.  As for me, I believed I was an expert parent before I had kids, so twelve years of re-learning what I thought I already knew has been humbling and painful.  I'd love to hear your perspective.  Please share by leaving a comment.

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