Grow: Unprofessionalizing Motherhood
On my small group, we’ve begun reading through the book, How Children Raise Parents by Dan Allender who is the president (and professor of counseling) at Mars Hill Graduate School in Seattle, WA. Overall, the book takes a fresh look at the relationship between God and parents and kids, challenging some of the conventional roles (and expectations) of parents and children. He asks the question- what if God’s highest goal for us as parents isn’t “success”? “Imagine what would happen if you began to prize what you’re being taught by your children’s quirks, failures, and normal childhood dilemmas, rather than worrying about whether you’re doing everything right as a parent.” Well, that would be awesome!
One of the greatest lessons I have learned so far through this book is that no matter how good our parenting is, we will not produce perfect kids. For me, this relieves some of the pressure of the need to be a successful, perfect parent and allows me to relax and enjoy the ride a little more. One of the tendencies I have is to professionalize motherhood, which includes measuring my job performance based on the outcome of the goals. How this has translated in the past:
- Goal: Potty-train my kid by age ____.
- Goal: Teach my kids to count to 10 by age ____.
- Goal: My kids will obey the first time I tell them something.
- Goal: Teach my kids to “behave well” when out in public.
I could go on, but as you can see, my success for all these goals is based on the behaviors of my children. And there, my friends, is a dangerous place to live, because this is not how God measures our success.
In case you’re not convinced yet, I think it’s helpful to take a look at God’s parenting track record. If God’s success is based on his parenting skills, he’s not doing much better than us. It only takes a few minutes of reading any of the Old Testament to see that the Israelites didn’t really …well, obey very well. And it only takes a few minutes to realize that despite God’s best parenting with us, we don’t always obey very well either.
So perhaps it’s time to let go of the paradigm that our kids define our success, and begin to ask God what it is that He wants for us and from us. I think letting go of this paradigm will also free us to be less judgmental of other parents (and ourselves!), and instead figure out how we can come alongside and support other parents around us.