Next Things Next: Family
Family has a way of bringing our true natures to light. I never realized how much I adored order, cleanliness, and marking things off my to-do list until my kids stripped those away. When my first child, Cory, was a toddler, I sorted toys according to their own kind: cars with cars, bears with bears, blocks with blocks. I taught Bible Study, babysat when others were in a bind, and accept extra work assignments.
When children number two and three came along, I knew was facing a losing battle. It was impossible to keep the house clean, please my friends, and make a name for myself in the writing industry. My frustration was evident.
Seeking the Lord, I soon realized the problem wasn’t with my children’s neediness, but with my heart. What was my motivation for keeping a spotless home? For leading a women’s group? For turning in multiple writing assignments before deadline? My motivation had been the approval of others. I wanted to show I could do it all . . . and do it well. That’s when I became aware of Ecclesiastes 4:6, “Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”
That’s me exactly! I realized. I had two hands full, chasing after perfection I’d never achieve. I needed to slow down and enjoy my kids. I knew the day would come when a game of Memory® with Mom wouldn’t be fun, and I didn’t want to look back at my children’s younger years with regret.
But the flip side of not ‘enough quality time,’ is getting our children involved in too much outside the home. With so many enriching, educational activities out there, it’s hard to say “no.”
For many years, my kids were only allowed to participate in one activity per year. This grew harder as they got older. I didn’t want to be the “bad” mom who refused to let her children play school sports. But as the discussion about Leslie’s schedule showed, I wasn’t doing my kids any favors by involving them in too much.
In a society that praises accomplishment, children are often forced to take on roles they’re not comfortable with. Kids are compelled to grow up sooner than they want to—by parents who worry they’ll be left behind. As parents, we should never be fooled to think we can ever ‘keep up.’ In every area of our children’s lives, there will always be someone brighter, faster, or better. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting our children to be the best they can. But often this “best” becomes detrimental when we push our kids to do too much, too soon.
What about you? How have you found balance in your family?
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