23 Oct Director’s Blog – Oct 2019
“Please remain seated with your seatbelt fastened. Put on your own oxygen mask first before attempting to assist younger children.”
Oftentimes, parents sacrifice themselves for the sake of their children, focusing all their attention on what their kids need and trying to always be there for them. Many parents make the mistake of building their lives and marriages around their children, only to discover that neither their personal life nor their marriage is thriving, (or even surviving!)
Past generations used the “children should be seen and not heard” approach to parenting.
But I propose that we have gone to another extreme: the “our lives revolve around our children” approach. Let’s follow the analogy from the familiar airplane safety instructions above. When a flight is becoming turbulent, wisdom tells us that if we pass out from lack of oxygen before we can assist others around us, then we have done them no good. Perhaps they will now have to attend to us in the midst of chaos, imposing even more stress.
Take a “time out” moment to reflect on this: Good parenting may really boil down to taking care of ourselves first before we attempt to help our children. That sounds so contrary to the current tendency for some parents to hover over their children to make sure that they will never experience pain, want or disappointment (helicopter parenting) or removing any obstacles before their child has to experience them (lawnmower parents) When we hover around our children, it is natural that they will assume the world revolves around them. When we mow down obstacles for our children, they no longer have an opportunity to face challenges and grow and learn the joy of overcoming!
We don’t have to be in a crisis plummeting from 30,000 ft. in the air to appropriate the wisdom of this statement for all of life. If you’re gasping for breath, you can’t help anybody else. Bottom line: You cannot take care of your family unless you first take care of yourself.
Even Jesus knew this…”because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat (how many moms do this daily?) Jesus said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31-32
Self-love is not selfishness. The Bible seems to assume self-love. One of the great commandments is to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” What would it look like if we loved our kids as little as we loved ourselves? It might look like… Exhausting them by asking them to do too much, depriving them of sleep and good nutrition, never letting them play and unwind, talking negatively and shaming them for being failures or inadequate, letting them become addicted and distracted by technology or other addictions…. Not a pretty sight when we think about it.
I encourage you to reflect on how you are taking care of yourself. Are you taking time to grow spiritually? Are you establishing and holding to family routines and discipline so that you can enjoy a meal together at the table or have time to unwind after putting your children to bed? Are you going to bed early enough to get adequate rest? Are you putting on your oxygen mask and breathing the air of creative outlets? Are you taking time to spend quality alone time with your spouse to talk about important heart things? Moral of this story… Take time to breathe…don’t just survive the flight of life, but thrive and enjoy all it offers by taking care of yourself!
I’m always happy to chat with you if you have anything on your heart and mind about life, parenting, marriage and growing in relationship with Jesus!