I am going to be brutally honest and transparent in these next few minutes. It’s an effort to be real.
Being a parent is hard. I have a 5 year old, a 3 year old, 1 year old…and one on the way.
Since returning from a mission trip to Mexico on Sunday, I feel like 90% of what I have done as a parent is yell, sulk, spank, and sit on that fence between sheer anger and utter hopelessness. The other 10% I have doted on my kids; making up for missed time on my trip and also atoning for what I feel like could be bad parenting.
And it’s a terrible cycle.
Example: Today at lunch, daughter #1, Eden, didn’t want daughter #2, Jerah, to pray for her food. She broke down in tears over it. I (calmly) removed Eden from the table and set her down on the steps leading up to our bedrooms. This is the place we go when we can’t be around everyone else. She wailed. My wife, Keri, asked me if we are teaching our kids the wrong things about prayer when we do that. In essence, are we teaching them to be legalistic when we say they can’t eat if they don’t pray? I felt like the issue was not prayer itself…but more that Eden sometimes believes she is the center of the known universe and can get what she wants at any given time.
Keri and I then had one of those disagreeing moments. We didn’t fight; we just weren’t on the same page. And that simply compounds the problems.
Meanwhile, all these thought go through my head. Here is a sampling:
- I haven’t had one good conversation with an older parent who gives me honest, helpful advice. There just isn’t any “parenting discipleship” happening anywhere. This is almost like sex; everyone is thinking about it and trying to do it better–but nobody is really talking about it.
- I think this is just a phase, but do I just say that to make myself feel better as an inadequate parent?
- How is Eden going to do in kindergarten next year? How much time will I have to spend with the principal?
- We must be outside of our minds to be having another baby.
- Why in the world will my daughters not pick up their toys at the end of the day? Everything I have tried to do has failed to motivate them.
- I fear I am falling WAY short in teaching my children about God, Jesus, and living as a Follower.
- I read books and blogs by other fathers who seem to have it all figured out. They “date” their kids at least once a month. And they date their wives. They have found the balance. I have not. Nobody writes about spankings or frustrations or kicking the crap out of the toy bucket that their kids are throwing at each other. These guys have figured it out…and they are not as utterly desperate as I feel.
I’m not sure what I am looking for here. I don’t think that it’s your advice or even your sympathy. Maybe it is. Maybe the process of writing this out helps me realize that I have a long ways to go before I am the kind of father to my kids that God is to me.
PostScript: My kids are great kids. I don’t think they are the issue. I think the issue is me.