Ten years ago this month, I became a Mama. I had dreamt and wished and prayed for that title. With the preparations of a nursery, the purchase of tiny pink baby clothes and selecting the perfect name, I thought I was ready. When the day finally came, it turned out I was not prepared for how much my heart would immediately fall in love with the sweet baby placed in my arms.
As a first time parent, I was fiercely protective of our daughter. I didn’t think anyone could hold, rock or change her as well as I could. Babysitters? No way. We were her parents and needed to be monitoring and documenting every single moment. What was probably some postpartum anxiety, I simply justified as doing my job and doing it well. I wasn’t going to let anything or anyone spoil this perfect little baby that I had been entrusted with.
Fast forward a decade…we’ve added two more kids to the mix and I think I’ve loosened up a bit (my husband may disagree here). While I still worry, the worries have now evolved as the children are growing older. What if they see something graphic on TV? What if that neighbor kid teaches them the “s-word” (which totally ended up being the word 'stupid'). Mean girls? Belly button piercings? Wrong crowds? It’s enough to make me want to lock them up in a bubble.
When these thoughts race and I immediately want to DO SOMETHING to protect my precious little ones, the Lord gently reminds me that the only thing that I can DO is point them to Jesus.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (NIV)
My husband and I have felt led to set rules for our family regarding certain media, limiting internet access and encouraging modesty. There are certainly places where we clearly need to set limitations to keep our children safe in a world that is not our home. Conversely, it is naive to think that the only evil is that which is lurking beyond our four walls.
The Gospel Coalition published an article last year that has stuck with me:
"It’s easy for a Christian family that seeks to honor the Lord with distinctive, holy living to adopt this mindset: The world is evil, and our family is good. Therefore, we need to protect our family from the evil outside. It’s the idea that sin is something out there that we need to watch out for. The reality, however, is that sin is not primarily something we need to be sheltered from, but delivered from."
I often look at my children and see them as pure and spotless. Hang out with a toddler or tween for any amount of time and you will quickly see that isn’t the case. Foot stomping and eye rolling are innate. When sin came into the world, the human heart was forever marred. Our original sin exists and no amount of sheltering or rules can eradicate it. But there is One who can and does.
When my anxious Mama-heart finds yet another worry, Jesus whispers His truth. Strive to model the character of Christ…love others well…pray for and teach our kiddos a worldview through the lens of Scripture.
My husband and I are only ten years into our parenting journey and I’m sure the road will only become more bumpy as we go along. This is the epitome of "on the job training”. We don’t want them to have a carbon copy of our faith but instead, to find Jesus and a relationship with Him in a personal way. God repeatedly shows me that there is no earthly formula for raising perfect kids. We can only show them the perfect Father that loves them more than we ever could.