I have a lot of anxiety about being able to give my kids what they need. I fret over whether I am too strict or not strict enough. I obsess about the differences between how I grew up and they are growing up and whether or not those differences are meaningful. I stress about how much sugar they eat, how few vegetables they eat, if they are on track developmentally, and if the penny Lucy swallowed a few years ago is still in her digestive track. I overthink whether I am emotionally available enough for them amidst all the laundry and activity, or that maybe I’m too emotionally available and they’ll become entitled. How do I know they’re getting what they need, but not too much? How do I know they’ll be ok?
I think this is the quandary of parenting. Since none of us has done it before, and no one else has done it with exactly our circumstances, then no one can guarantee that it will all be ok. No one can say for sure whether my kids are going to turn out all right. Throw in the whole concept of free will and you really can’t guarantee anything. It is the perfect storm for producing anxiety, which almost every parent experiences to one degree or another. Maybe you don’t have anxiety over the same things I do, but it’s a struggle for most of us when it comes to raising our kids.
With anxiety in general, and especially about our kids, one of the best things we can do is pray and truly leave it to God. I, like most, am a perfectionist in many things – and not in a good way. Parenting is no different. I try to fill every gap and hit every nail on the head with my kids, doing it all perfectly, not messing anything up, because it’s all up to me, right? And while I should do my best when it comes to parenting, I think something needs to change in how I approach it. I have to learn to leave it to God, to truly trust Him with these little treasures I’ve been given, and to trust that He will cover my blind-spots and inadequacies as a parent.
After all is said and done I know I will not have been a perfect mother; I will have messed up more than I would like to think about and in ways I can’t even understand. But in parenting, and everything else, God is after our interdependence more than He is after our perfect performance. He’s asking us to come to Him, to ask Him for help, to let Him have the control. We must let perfectionism give way to trust so that our lives are ordered correctly, including not allowing our kids and families to be placed before our relationship with God.
For me, this is where spirituality hits the road, gets down and dirty and real. God is in the minutiae of our lives and letting Him into the small things opens my eyes to just how much He wants to care for me. Let’s make it our aim to have an authentic faith that trusts Him with our children, our families, and all the little details we worry about.
Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?! (Luke 12:22-25)