I often hear from parents how hard it is to raise kids. And, truthfully, it is. In fact, among peers, you often hear what amounts to a parental match of ping-pong—attempting to win the coveted status of “parent with the hardest job.” We love to highlight all the reasons why our particular situation is harder than the next family’s. Our complaints become our rationale for why our lives aren’t as together as we wish they were.
“Our bedtime routine is a nightmare."
“My 15-year-old is so disrespectful, but what can you do? He’s a teenager."
“We could do so much more if we only had two kids!"
“My daughter is such a drama queen. If things aren’t just so, she melts down."
“Oh, we can’t take our kids to a restaurant; they will tear the place down."
“Don’t my kids know I need 8-10 hours of sleep!"
“We have food allergies; don’t get me started on grocery shopping!"
“Our house looks like a Toys-R-Us exploded."
“He’s seven and not potty trained, but it’s different. You have it easy. You have girls."
“Our lives are so busy because our kids are in dance, basketball, lacrosse and soccer, not to mention all the homework they have!"
Other: add your complaint here!
As I hear these sorts of things (and, yes, I’ve been as guilty as anyone for these sorts of attitudes), I realize there is something else happening here. For me, I need the challenge of the question, “What does complaining about the woes of parenting do for us in the actual job of parenting!?” I think we need to get beneath the issue and consider some reasons why we complain about this privilege we have to parent our kids.
1. It’s a thankless job.
This may be the primary reason we are so willing to complain and whine about parenting. When was the last time your child turned and said, “Mom, thanks for making me eat my vegetables.” It does not happen! Kids rarely, if ever, thank their parents for what they say and do. Beyond this, for those who are married and raising kids, it’s rare that your spouse says, “thank you.” Parenting is a thankless job from toddlers to teens. We all love for our hard work and genuine care to be acknowledged and appreciated. This often drives us to toot our own horns by complaining about the difficulties we face. Perhaps, subconsciously we are fishing for someone to say, “thank you.” However, what people hear is a whiny, excuse-making, pitiful parent. And one of the most damaging results is our unwitting children in earshot who hear that mom or dad consider them a nuisance.
2. Parenting is truly challenging.
Not all complaints arise from the subconscious need to be honored and thanked. Some of our complaints come from the very real fact that parenting is hard. Each child comes with his or her own set of challenges. Last time I checked, there are NO perfect kids. We all face issues that cause us to stress, react, fret and to feel the worst feeling of all, incompetence. Sometimes our complaining is our way of admitting our incompetence. However, all too often this admission turns into permission! Just because something is hard and has stumped us as parents, it does not constitute forfeiting our role as parent. We ought never chalk up a challenge as impossible, because there is ALWAYS a responsible move we can make as Mom or Dad. Sometimes it takes getting over ourselves and our fears and facing the issue with a calm and positive mindset.
3. Greener pastures.
A wise parent once told me, “Remember your season of life. Don’t wish to be in someone else’s season or you will miss the one you are in and the one you are in is MOST important today.” Every parenting complaint is embedded into a season of life. Each season has its share of trouble and its share of joy. The problem is, we tend to focus in on the trouble of our season of life and lose sight of the joy. Every complaint we make is like taking a step away from our reality and hoping for greener pastures. This season of life is vital for you as a parent and especially vital for the development of your child. Remember, you have 7000days. Enjoy the journey.
4. We think it’s a solo mission.
When was the last time you asked a friend or family for advice on a parenting issue? I know, the thought of it is like high treason against the idea that you have it all together. We all have our bad days and breaking points. Well, just like there is no such thing as a perfect child, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Every parent learns a few things along the way that are worth passing along. Your parenting might improve a few points by simply humbling yourself enough to ask for some help. Parenting was never meant to be a solo mission. This is true if you are married. You should seek your spouse’s thoughts and advice on parenting matters. This is true of your circle. Your family and friends that surround you are a wonderful resource to help you navigate the waves of parenting. Most of all, this is true of God. God did not leave you alone to parent. He has given you His word, which has a lot to say about parenting and He has given you Himself. God is the only perfect parent. As you interact in a personal relationship with God, you learn by experience what a good parents does. When you treat your kids the way God treats you, you are well on your way to being a great parent!
Here’s the bottom line: parenting is hard work. No one ever said it would be easy. In fact, EVERYONE said it would be hard. Get over it, do the work and make your family awesome!