I am a young father of two amazing boys. My amazing wife is a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM). We are in our mid-twenties. We’ve been married 5 1/2 years.
That puts us right in the thick of a raging battle. We are on the front lines of the “Mommy Wars,” the
“Daddy Wars,” the “War on Women,” the “War on Men,” the pacifier wars, the cry-it-out wars, the circumcision war (I wish I were kidding about that one…), the home school vs. public school wars.
(In a sad twist of fate, one of our guilty-pleasure shows is Cupcake Wars. Our ancestors will be quite confused by that one when they research our culture in the coming centuries.)
It’s BRUTAL out there.
Everybody’s an expert. Everybody has an opinion. Everybody knows what worked for their kid, so of course it must work for all kids everywhere for all of time!
The dreaded “P” word has been cause for taking offense and going on the defensive. Wars and battles and bloody massacres destroy, corrupt, and confuse young couples with kids, sucking all the fun and joy out of raising a family. It seems that the “P” word (“Parenting”) has become a hot bed of controversy all across the blogosphere and Pinterest.
And I wish the church were a refuge from the battles waged under the flag of Parenting. But the church can be anything BUT a safe place for young families.
You know, my kids never ran around the church like that.
Kids these days have no respect for other people’s property.
You just need to spank your boy more.
Spare the rod, spoil the child.
Be careful not to knock over the ugly plastic flower display adorning the stage.
Don’t push Tommy…into the baptistry.
It can be hard enough navigating the minefields of playground politics. We young families need a BREAK from that when we gather together as the corporate family to worship on Sundays.
It’s amazing that our families with young kids can even make it out the door and into the car with sanity still in tact. Many Sundays I find myself driving to the church building thinking to myself, I love my kids. I love my kids. I love my kids. I really do. Because sometimes I need a reminder.
When the kids wake up early, whine and pout the entire morning about EVERYTHING (I don’t want to watch THAT episode of Mickey!!!!!!), after getting breakfast – and then getting the right breakfast because the kid suddenly changes his mind about what he wants, getting everybody dressed, finding the lost shoes and the missing stuffed animals, getting the diaper bag packed and the screaming baby strapped into the torture contraption we call a “car seat”…
The last thing young parents need is “well-meaning” church folks telling us what we are doing wrong as parents.
It’s easy to sit back and make smug comments about how much of an angel your son was at 3 years old. It’s easy to point out that so-and-so’s kids may not be that well behaved. It’s easy to grumble about all the smiling, laughing faces dashing, darting, and jumping around the auditorium as soon as worship service is over.
It’s easy, but it’s not helpful.
What’s helpful is volunteering to PLAY with the kids after worship service – thus making sure that they have fun AND stay out of trouble. What’s helpful is to build such a relationship with the young families in the church that they welcome and cherish your stories and advice about parenting. What’s helpful is treating the young kids as prized possessions in the church, knowing that one day they will be trying to win the world for the kingdom – if they’re not driven away by bitterness and criticism while they are young.
So let’s all call it a truce and agree to a cease-fire in the Mommy Wars that rage in the world. Let the church be a safe place for young parents with small children. Let Sundays be a time that young families can worship freely, knowing that there are several hundred other people who have nothing but the best interests at heart for their children. Most of all, let’s make the church a place where collectively we can undertake the monumental task of training up our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).
More on this next time…