Did you know? Parents come in all shapes and sizes. There are dictators, push-overs, just friends, overbearing, whatever, and absent parents. Most parents try to do the best they can do. Some are overwhelmed and just trying to keep their heads above water. What kind of parent are you?
Maggie and I had Rachel after 7 years of marriage. We planned our family and were ready, or so we thought. Rachel ended up having the colic, probably for 4-6 weeks, but she played it for 4 months. At our wit’s end, we sought help from specialists at the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. Only the best for our little girl. The doctor took 5 minutes with our daughter and 20 minutes with us. After giving us assurances that our little girl was fine, he noted, “You know, guys, Rachel is now one third of your family. She deserves one third of your time and attention.”
Wow! That comment hit me like a ton of bricks. You mean, I can have time for myself and for my wife? Yes, you can. In fact, such time adds to the quality of time you have with your children. In Amy Chua’s book, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, the author makes a case for being all in with your child. She says, “demanding perfection and mastery, at all costs to you and to a balanced life, is worth it for your child to accomplish great things.” Well, no thanks. The price is too high.
Others prefer the role of “the soccer mom.” These parents seem to be at their children’s beckoned call, shuttling them to soccer games and other events in hopes of giving them “a well-rounded childhood.” Also at great cost to you. Neither extreme provides a balance of activity and responsibility among all family members.
Other authors, Elizabeth and Charles Schmitz, in their book, Building the Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprizing Secrets of Successful Marriage, advocate for keeping the marriage strong above all else. In Teachable Moments: Building Blocks of Christian Parenting, I describe a Plexiglas pyramid, where above the point is God. As we are in relationship with Him, we have healthy resources for ourselves. As we are in relationship with ourselves, we can be there for our spouse. As the marriage is healthy, we can be there for our children. These pyramid relationships provide the balance of activity and responsibility within which all family members thrive. Where are your priorities, and what kind of parent are you?