Examining your hesitations about parenthoodWritten by Janine Petry
Parenthood isn’t something everyone dreams of – and it’s not hard to imagine why. We’ve all seen that frustrated mom dragging her demanding toddler out of the store or that dismal dad bribing his kids to behave. These haggard parents are your siblings, colleagues and friends. In their former lives, you might have thought of them as fun and cool. But after seeing what family life has done to them, you – like many young couples – vow you’ll never let it happen to you.
It’s true – there’s no hiding the muck and mayhem of parenthood. From crumb-covered couches to finger-painted front doors, parents wear their lives – and their kid’s breakfast – out in the open. New parents adopt a vocabulary with words like diaper, spit-up, burp cloth, gas and nighttime feeding. With time, the vocabulary expands to include such sophisticated phrases as "crying can’t help you," "use your fork," "don’t step on your sister" and "stop drinking the bathwater."
The toughest job in the world
If that doesn’t scare you, some other unpleasantries of parenthood probably do. You know those date nights and candlelight dinners you enjoy? Only superhuman determination keeps those romantic moments alive for parents. Even if you manage to find candles and matches, which you would dutifully hide to protect Junior, finding time is equally difficult. Your pre-parenting lifestyle would probably get placed on hold, and you would be trading movie night for an evening in Candy Land.
No, it’s not a job for the faint-hearted. There are no easy-bake families and cookie-cutter children, no shortcuts to good parenting. It’s a tiresome, time-consuming task that demands the parents’ best, 24/7 – often without immediate reward. Yet, it’s a privilege I wouldn’t trade for anything.
The original parent
You see, there’s something that makes this tedious, daily-grind-of-a-job one of the most beautiful things that happen on this planet: Parenting is part of the nature of God.
Although Adam and Eve were the first earthly parents, the concept of parenting did not begin with them. Isaiah 9:6 identifies our Lord as the Everlasting Father. In fact, throughout the Bible, God is called our Father, and He refers to us as His children. Unlike us, He’s the perfect parent. We tire easily; He neither slumbers nor sleeps. We dread discipline; He loves us too much to withhold it. We’re easily overwhelmed by problems; nothing is too difficult for Him. We look forward to an empty nest; He longs to gather us under His wings.
For God, parenting isn’t a side job; it’s not something He does in His spare time. And it’s not a role He distinguishes from His other roles in our lives. It’s central to who He is and was and always will be. His desire for us to know Him intimately as "Abba, Father" makes that clear (Romans 8:15).
He made us in His image. Then He gave His first command – to multiply – which the Bible records as a blessing (Genesis 1:27-28). It’s a blessing because it is God’s invitation to be like Him in the most profound way possible: to be progenitors and caretakers of His good creation. There is no greater privilege. And for such small sacrifices – which last for what feels like a moment – parents receive the incomparable joy of knowing and being like Him.
Of course, you may have real and compelling reasons for being hesitant about parenthood: the financial strain, the loss of freedom and the emotional and physical stress. But are there deeper issues that keep you from receiving one of God’s greatest blessings? Take time to examine whether any misperceptions or flawed attitudes may be limiting what God wants to do in your marriage. You can use these steps to guide you:
- Pray for the willingness to yield to God’s desires for you as a couple. Ask God to help you see the privilege of raising children as He does. Consider doing a Bible study on parenting to help you better understand this concept from God’s perspective.
- Root out wrong reasons for not wanting children. Ask God to show you reasons that are self-centered; ask Him to show you the beauty of laying down your life for another; ask Him to open your eyes to the many blessings that can come through parenting.
- Root out wrong reasons for becoming parents. Sometimes, we can attempt to use children to meet our own agendas. Children aren’t marriage strengtheners, better tax returns, ways to fit in with friends, cures for boredom or loneliness or signs of personal godliness.
- Recognize that parenting is a God-sized task. Confess your fears about parenting to God. What are you afraid of most? Be honest, and ask for His wisdom and strength.
- Talk with godly parents. Ask God to purify your perspective by showing you godly parents and healthy families. Get connected to people who value children, and learn from them. Listen, ask questions and be ready to accept advice.
Parenting will always have its difficulties; God knows that best. But we can choose to accept them with joy, knowing that they’re part of what it means to love as He loves. Every joy and every difficulty has the potential to draw us closer to Him. And that is a dream worth making real – diapers, bathwater and all.
Janine Petry lived with her husband and three children in Carol Stream, Illinois at the time of publication.
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