Monday, February 27, 2012

Parenting Paths ~ More Questions Than Answers

Do you ever have more questions than answers?  More doubts than confidence?  I have found myself in one of those places.  And not about little things like should I have the living room arranged this way or should I change this recipe.  No, my questions and doubts are about my sacred job of raising my children.  I am questioning our discipline, homeschooling, priorities, everything.  I laid in bed last night talking to my husband (my ever loving and encouraging husband), and I told him that I had no wisdom.  I had no more ideas.  What do you do when you come to the end of yourself?  I know the "correct" answer to that is "Look to God!"  He has the answers.  I know that, I do.  I have sought His face day in and day out.  I have sought the advice of godly people.  I have searched the Scriptures.  I have prayed, I have fasted, yet I still have this tremendous fear that I am losing my children.  And I don't know how to stop it.  Is there any worse fear than that?
This isn't about a fear of failing.  This is way beyond being superficial.  This is about the fear of watching my children choose to walk away from the Lord.  Or settle for 2nd, 3rd, or 4th best.  I want my children to have this passionate, joyful, faith-filled walk with the Lord.  Wherever that may lead them.  If they grow to have families or if God calls them to stay single.  Whether that is working a mile down the road on the family farm, or moving around the world to serve as missionaries.  Whatever God's best for them is what I want.  But what if they reject it?
Now, I want to clarify that my kids are "good" kids.  Most people would look at them and think that they were going to "turn out" great.  They are loving, kind, sweet, funny, helpful children.  For the most part.  But there are days that I see a much different side to them.  There are days that I wonder if these are the same children.  Yesterday was one of those days.
Things always seem worse when they return from their biological father's home.  They have no real rules, no responsibilities and no limitations.  I will give a brief example of this from this last weekend's account.  Friday they didn't go to bed until midnight (at home it is 8:30 or 9:00 depending on when we get devos done) and Saturday it was 10pm.  They eat macaroni and cheese, pizza, Lucky Charms and peanut butter and jelly.  They watched 5 movies (only one of which I would allow in my home), played video games, played on the computer (unsupervised) and just played in general.  They did not brush their teeth once the entire weekend.  My daughter never changed her clothes.  She came home Sunday in what she was wearing Friday when she was picked up.  My son was never given his prescription medication.  They snacked on skittles and jello cups.  They picked on each other and were generally mean to each other.  They tattle on each other that neither one of them obeys my ex-husband or his wife.  But they tell me all about the video games that are over there (we don't have any) and the new toys and the fun shopping trips.  They come home and they are grouchy with each other and my husband and I (I blame some of this on the basic lack of sleep).  My son was horribly disrespectful to me yesterday.  They disobey, they yell and scream and even hit each other.  As thrilled as I am that they are home again, those days prove to be some of my weariest days.  And I hate that!  I want them to be welcomed into a home filled with joy and enthusiasm and for the rest of the day to be enjoyed together catching up.  Instead, they are welcomed warmly, but usually within half an hour I am having to correct behavior or play referee.
People have told me to simply talk to my ex-husband and wife.  We have.  Several times.  Nothing changes.  Some have told me to report them to Children's Services.  As far as Children's Services is concerned, my children are being well provided for in that home.  They are not being brutally abused, starved or neglected.  There are much more pressing cases.  So I am left with the aftermath.
We pray.  We absolutely bathe them in prayer while they are gone.  God can protect far beyond a mother's reach.  I understand that.  I cling to that.  I also understand that these are the consequences of a broken home.  I am not so foolish to believe that when sin creeps in it does not create chaos and pain even for those who are innocent.  God never promised to put His children in a bubble.  What I don't understand, is how on earth we combat this.  I do not have the privilege of making all the decisions regarding my children's care.  Every other weekend (or so), I turn all my rights, responsibilities, hopes, dreams, everything over to someone else to do as they see fit. My hands are tied and I have to patiently wait to see what stories I am told when they return.  I cannot fret myself with worry (I try to keep as busy as possible while they are away to help prevent this!).  I cannot follow after them and monitor every move.  I simply pray.  A lot.  And then I wait.  I always seem to be optimistic that when they return they will have not only had a good time, but that they will have had proper hygiene and nutrition, that they had not been exposed to inappropriate material via the TV or computer and that they will have been loving, kind and obedient and little examples of Christ while they were there.  That is my hope each time I see them pull into the drive.  Within the hour (sometimes within a few minutes), my hopes come crashing down and shatter into a thousand pieces.
So what am I to do?  I just keep plugging away, trying to do what is best, but what if my best isn't good enough?  I feel such a strong pull on my children's hearts.  Each week that goes by I feel as though they are slipping a little bit more from my grasp.  I try to be wise.  I try to be patient.  I try to be what I think God wants me to be.  But I fail.  Often.  Too often.  I grow weary.  I doubt.  I question.  I fret.  And none of that helps my children.
So, I write.  I share the struggles that we are going through all the while knowing that there will be those out there that shake their heads in disgust.  There will be those that have perfect children and they will only see the many, many mistakes I have made and they will thank the Lord that they are not me.  But to put up a blog filled with all the wonderful things about my little life and family without giving a glimpse of the real life struggles is borderline deceitful.  And, quite frankly, I am selfishly coveting prayers from anywhere I can get them.  So please, even if you are shaking your head in disgust, take a moment to pray for our little family.  Pray for the hearts and souls of my children.  Pray that my husband and I will have wisdom from the Lord as we desperately seek to do what is best.  Pray that God will direct us even today as we make decisions, both great and small.  Simply pray.  And when you are done praying for us (thank you), remember to pray for all those other families around you that may be going through some seriously tough struggles of their own.
Parenting is a tremendously high calling that can take you to both heights and depths unimaginable.  I am so thankful to have the only Perfect Parent available to me.  May He make our path clear and forgive my mistakes.


  1. What a hard things for you, you and your kids. This is so strange for them, other rules: a lot of freedom - limited personal care. I would hate it. There is only one way, prayer. Your husband is right. If we believe that He is with us, then He will also show the way through these difficulties. But it remains difficult. Are the children obliged to go there?

    Lots of strength and a loving hug from another mother, far away.

    1. Right now the kids do have to go there. It is hard on all of us, but I know that God is in control of all these things. Thanks for your prayers!