Time for Parenting...
...because raising children is a full-time job
October 2004 NewsletterA time to every purpose; The value of motherhood in Islam; Christianity and Motherhood; A free family; The vocation of motherhood; The daycare debate continues; What the papers say
The challenge of Christianity
It strikes me that a good deal of philosophy and faith is called for in full-time motherhood - a philosophical approach (or at least a degree of stoicism) when your baby is sick on your freshly-washed blouse again; combined with faith that whatever trying stage the children are going through at the moment won't lost forever...
As a Christian, I have found that my faith both gives me strength in my role as a FTM and carries with it additional challenges. For instance, motherhood may involve costly forgiveness when we would rather vent our anger; it will involve self-sacrifice and service at all hours of the day and often when we don't feel like it. But it is a huge encouragement to me to know that I am only following in the example set by Christ.
Having an eternal perspective on my own life and that of the children also takes the sting out of the material sacrifices that come with the loss of a salary - choices of holidays, schooling etc. - which are so important in a materialist world but count for nothing compared with the present and eternal welfare of our children.
Christians seek to serve God and to fulfil his purpose in every area of life, and for me a central part of that is that I should be the best mother I am capable of being to the children I have been given. This could never involve me leaving them to a stranger's care simply in order that I could earn an additional salary. On the other hand it does not involve making idols of the children and pandering to their every whim - just as God gives us everything we need, but not necessarily everything we want, which would not be good for us.
And what of the additional challenges? Christian parents have the responsibility of modelling to their children the nature of unconditional love as we ourselves receive it from God, so that the children see and understand God's love for them, modelled in our lives - now there's a challenge!
Christian parents also have the responsibility, as the first and best educators of our children, to teach them the gospel. Coming from a family that did not practise any faith, I did not learn about Christianity as a child. My parents felt that I should make my own choice when I grew up. I daresay there will be many readers who will have doubts, as do my own parents, about the way we bring up our children and teach them about our faith.
That is perfectly fair, but there is a saying that
'God doesn't have grandchildren, only children'. In other words, my children
will not be saved by my faith, but only their own. Each one of us makes
our own decision for or against God, whether by action or apathy. But
if Jesus was who he claimed to be and achieved what he said he did, then
the question of whether to follow him is the most important one any of
us can ever settle, so it would be the most unkind thing in the world
not to explain that to the children I love.