Welcome Home: Joyful Parenting

As we conclude our focus on parenting (and the book in general) I wanted to return once more to the idea of joy, for no other reason than this: It’s so easy to get caught up in the heaviness of parenting.  The weight of raising Godly sons and daughters, of teaching and training, and of correction and discipline, can be daunting and overwhelming.  The tiredness we feel from the everyday duties of parenting- dishes, laundry, taxiing, and schedule-keeping- is yet another weight we often carry.  And then there is the weight that is the challenge of raising children who come pre-packaged with a full-blown sin nature.   

And yet, it is for joy that we persevere.  There is immense joy in raising children in the knowledge of God, so that they may grow in their love and obedience to Him.  And because of our love for our children, there is joy in walking with them through all of life’s highs and lows.  There is joy in the simple enjoyment of who they are as people.  And there is exceeding joy in the giving of our love to them.  It was for joy that Jesus endured the cross, and it is for joy that we continue in our work of parenting.        

In the midst of the heaviness, we can turn to Psalm 127:3-5 to remind ourselves of this truth: children are a blessing from God to be enjoyed.  Consider these words.  “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!”  Even on the hardest days, our children are a heritage and a reward!  As we continue in the God-given work of raising children, let’s also be diligent to delight in our arrows in the following ways:

  1. Spending time together.   When it comes to kids, there is no such thing as “quality time.”  It’s just time that matters.  While special trips and big days out are fun and memorable, time with our kids does not have to be something that is elaborate in nature.  In fact, it’s the seemingly small, daily interactions that matter most.  Everything from car rides across town, short walks, working on household chores/tasks together, chatting at bedtime, and everything in between, are golden opportunities to delight in the company of our kids.  While this, of course, is likely not a new insight, I know for myself the value of being reminded of the significance of these shared moments- especially in light of the brevity of time our children actually live in our homes. 

As our kids get older, we may be tempted to disengage a bit, believing they don’t want to spend time with us.  While their interest in their friends does increase during adolescence, this does not mean that their interest in us decreases!  During the teenage years, our parenting roles may shift, but our kids’ needs for us do not.  Case in point:  studies show that teenagers benefit psychologically and socially from time spent with parents (https://www.futurity.org/hanging-out-with-parents-boosts-teen-self-esteem).  Because God is the great designer of the family unit, it’s not surprising that research backs up the vital role of parents taught in Scripture.  

As we leave this point, I want to give some consideration to the importance of giving our kids our undivided attention.  I know as well as anyone how easily cell phones can distract.  However, it’s vital that we intentionally put our phones down, make eye contact, and really look at our kids when spending time with them.  While our presence is powerful, being a fully present presence is even more so.  

  1.  Making Room for Play.  Contrary to what we may believe about adulthood, we are never too old to play!   After all, at any age, is anything more delightful than play?  Even more, play is a major mode of connection for kids.  When our kids ask us to play with them, they are inviting us to know them and engage with them.  While not all forms of play may be our cup of tea, if our kids are inviting us into it, we should regularly oblige.  I’ll admit: make-believe Barbie play was not always my favorite form of playing with my daughter (however, this could also be due to the fact that she gave me very little creative license when it came to plot lines and dialogue).  But play we must!  Whether it be sports, board games, dolls, or tea parties, through play we demonstrate joy and delight in our kids.       

While of course play includes all that was just discussed in the previous paragraph, I thought it was worth noting that play also includes our attitude/demeanor.  Does this mean we have to go out of our way to be a comedian?  Of course not.  But it does mean that keeping a light, playful attitude with our kids is another way to demonstrate our enjoyment of them.  I truly believe that humor is a great gift from God and is part of being created in His image.  This gift is also a wonderful tool for deepening our connection with our kids.     

Every age and stage of parenting is not without its challenges, heaviness, and intensities.  But let us not forget the immense joy that exists not only on the other side of the struggles but even in the midst of them.  As we make delighting in our kids a priority, I have no doubt that the joy in our homes will also abound.

Published by Nicole Byrum

Hello! I have been a therapist in the community mental health field for the last 13 years. During this time I have worked with numerous women in recovery from substance abuse. It was this work, along with my relationship with Jesus, that inspired me to write my first book, Remade: Living Free. I have found writing to be a joy and it is my aim through this website to continue to share my faith, insights, and hope with my readers. Some fun facts about me: I have been married for 15 years and have 2 children; I love to read, run and cook; Even though I have lived in Ohio for most of my life I am not a fan of cold weather!

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