Don't Parent in Isolation
- Elisabeth Klein Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2012 14 Mar
I’m sure that everyone has heard the African proverb by now that “it takes a village to raise a child.” I am finding this to be true in new ways lately. I am grateful that I am surrounded by people who love me and who love my children, and I am currently tapping into that extra love to help my kids through our difficult season.
I used to be the kind of mom that felt threatened when others offered help or advice -- as if I weren’t a good enough mother in my own right. But now, I look around my life and see my vulnerable areas, and I can sense the gaps where I’m not able to fill in what they both need. So, now instead of recoiling or getting defensive, I not only embrace offers of help, I’m out there asking for it.
I have a girlfriend who offered to pick up my fourteen-year-old daughter, Sara, every Sunday and bring her to her new small group Bible study. The group landed at a really odd time for my schedule. And when they’re in the car together, they talk. This girlfriend of mine asks really good questions of my daughter. Sara said to me after just the first car ride, “I feel so comfortable with Aunt Sheli. I’m so glad she’s taking me to the group.”
I have a mentor who has walked me through a hugely challenging relationship issue for the past three years, and she is about to start a book study with Sara as well. I cannot tell you how much good this does my heart. This mentor calls me one of her birdies and said that Sara is her grand-birdie. Love it.
Jack has joined a small group Bible study at his school that meets at – ugh – 6:45am every Wednesday. It is led by a junior and freshman in high school who wanted to pour into seventh grade boys. That early time is a killer but the moment Jack said he was interested, it didn’t even cross my mind to say no because of the time. In fact, each Wednesday, he wakes up and says, “Yes! Doughnuts and ping pong! Oh, yeah, and God” (I’ll take what I can get.) I’m also trying to get Jack connected with our pastor, his youth pastor and our sports ministry guy, just to get him exposed to as many men who can show him how to live his life hard after Jesus.
I’m so very aware I cannot raise my sweet children without a village. I am so aware that I’m incapable in my own strength. And I’m humble enough to know that I just might be a big part of any emotional thing they’re struggling with right now, which means they just might need someone other than me to unload on, about me.
If you find yourself attempting to mother in the day to day totally solo, your strength may wear thin quickly. God placed within us a desire for community. God wants for us to walk alongside each other. Don’t try to undertake your largest and most important role in isolation. Begin by telling God the areas that you feel you are losing the battle in the most; let Him fill you and bring you strength. Then, if you’re married, ask your husband for extra help. Be vulnerable enough to call on a girlfriend to swap babysitting for a few hours, or ask an older woman if she might be able to spend some time with you to share what she learned about mothering. Create your own village, for your sake and for the sake of your children. You don’t have to walk alone.
(c) Elisabeth K. Corcoran, 2011
Elisabeth is the author of He Is Just That Into You: Stories of a Faithful God who Pursues, Engages, and Has No Fear of Commitment (WinePress), In Search of Calm: Renewal for a Mother’s Heart (Xulon), and Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom’s Weary Soul (Kregel). All of her books can be purchased on Amazon or through her website at www.elisabethcorcoran.com.
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Watch Elisabeth and her friends spread hope through Africa with Samaritan’s Purse.