We can often hear words that say we are created uniquely by God, that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, and this is absolutely true. But how frequently do we judge ourselves based on other people’s behaviour?
As fathers it can happen easily.
We can find ourselves looking at other dads and asking, ‘have I done this right?’, or ‘am I doing a good job?’
One area that can be especially difficult is comparing ourselves with our own fathers. Whether we’ve had a good or bad example, there is often the temptation to use it as a blueprint for raising our own children. But this isn’t always healthy.
In Psalm 139, it says that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, and this includes the way we raise our kids.
It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t heed good advice, or that we should stubbornly stick to the way we’ve always done things, but it does mean that we can trust our own God-given instincts in order to parent effectively.
God has ordained you to be a parent. He has given you all the skills, resources and instincts to do this well, and to raise children who are God-fearing, people-loving human beings who will do their best to raise the next generation.
As a parenting team, you have the responsibility but also the opportunity to bring up your children in a way that is unique to you. Taking inspiration from other parents, including your own, is good and healthy, but be sure to be guided by God in making decisions.
When your daughter reaches up for you, she wants you to embrace her because you are her safe person. When your son wants to play-fight, he knows that you won’t intentionally hurt him (although the odd bump on the head can happen sometimes!).
They aren’t waiting for you to read a manual on how to deal with them, they are waiting for you to be active in their lives. That’s the best kind of parenting. As they are growing up, they will remember the quality time you spent with them much more than whether their nap times were at the correct point in the day or whether they learnt to walk before the other toddlers in their social circles.
Another thing to remember is that each of your children are unique.
They may all feature the same DNA, but they are anything but identical to each other. And we need to recognise that we need to parent them differently too. When one child is loud and confident and loves to chat to anyone, we shouldn’t look at another one of our children who is quiet, reserved and who may hide behind us as wrong or try to push them to be like the others in any way.
It’s about using a different approach for each child and seeing their individual potential. Each personality in your family will have strengths and weaknesses, even ourselves! It’s our job to discover the potential in each of our children and pull as much of it out as possible.
Seeking advice and reading books are not wrong to do but remember that God has already given you everything you need to do this well. Rely on Him and read His Word for the best guidance.