Hey moms, want to drive yourself insane? Or at least become depressed? Then strive to raise the perfect child! I mean it. Make it your life’s ambition to do everything you can to give your child the perfect upbringing so that everyone will acknowledge that you have the “perfect child”. You think I’m kidding don’t you? I’ve listened in to a few conversations lately among you young mothers and have observed a phenomenon that is new, at least new since my mother raised me and I and my most lovely wife raised ours (although I must admit, it was starting to rear its ugly head even then). It is the obsessive need to be the perfect parent intent on raising the perfect child. This is also evidenced by the necessity to enroll children in every possible activity to give them every advantage they can possibly have to “get ahead”. Normal playtime has to be structured playtime. Isn’t that an oxymoron? Extra-curricular activities are now year-round with many overlapping one another. Hockey camps and volleyball camps are mandatory for a 3 year-old if they want any chance at all of qualifying in middle school. Am I wrong?
I know you don’t even want me to go there if I start talking about academic prep do you? Will your two-year-old be ready for pre-school? Better get them watching Little Einstein. O.K. I confess, I like watching Little Einstein with my grandkids and think it’s a wonderful introduction to classics, so don’t be offended by that slight poke. What I’m talking about is the obsessive nature many moms have of worrying if their children are up to speed academically. On U.S. highway 94 are billboards that ask, “Is your child on track?” I was tempted to take a paint can at night and change the “t” to a “c” but in reality I think it is the people offering a business solution who are the ones on crack. But then again, they are not on crack because they are brilliantly making a profit pandering to this compulsive need parents have to raise perfect children. It’s just business.
Here’s an article entitled 71 Things Your Child Needs to Know Before Kindergarten. Really? 71? I got tired just ready the title. There was no way I was going to read paragraph one let alone the whole article. What if I forgot number 65? Was my poor child doomed to academic purgatory because of my neglect? I couldn’t live with the thought so I’d rather not know what number 65 was or any of the other numbers for that matter.
Studies have actually been done by the University of Michigan on obsessive mothers. Know what they discovered? I bet you could guess. Here are some quotes:
- “Super-mums’ who are too preoccupied with being the perfect parent may be more likely to suffer from depression, researchers say.
- Mothers who feel pressured to calm their crying babies or misbehaving offspring in public could be putting themselves under undue stress, leaving them more susceptible to mental health problems.
- The University of Michigan study revealed some mothers are too concerned about whether other people think they are a good enough mother. (That took a research study to find out?)
- The study found women who were too concerned about whether other people thought they were a ‘good’ mother could be more likely to become depressed.
- A recent study also revealed depression is more common in first-time mothers when her child reaches the age of four than during the year after giving birth.
- Research carried out in Australia found almost one in three first-time mothers reported depressive symptoms at least once between pregnancy and four years after giving birth.
O.K., let’s admit that motherhood is supremely important and challenging as is fatherhood, but does it have to be detrimental to one’s mental health? If your child starts school late, does it mean you need to go on Prozac? If your son is not potty trained before the rest of the kids in MOPS does that make you a failure as a mom? What if you should have enrolled him in music lessons sooner because maybe he might have been the next Mozart, but now it is too late? Can you see where all of this is headed? Certainly not in a healthy direction for your peace of mind.
Relax mom, it’s not up to you as much as you think it is! Here is where the sovereignty of God is a wonderful doctrine to cling to. God has your child’s future all mapped out and He (God) will get him or her there with or without your help. Think of the story of Jacob and Joseph in the Bible. Jacob was most likely kicking himself for treating Joseph as a favorite son because it ended up getting Joseph killed or nearly killed. (Do you really think Jacob believed the brother’s story about a wild animal taking Joseph’s life? I would have asked for more forensic evidence myself). Of course he could have second guessed every decision he made regarding Joseph, but God had far bigger plans. Here is Joseph’s take on all that transpired in his life. But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:19-20 ESV). Or take Jeremiah’s mom. She probably thought he would make a great craftsman the way he played with clay, but God had other plans for his life. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5 ESV) Dear mom, do you think you have any chance of tweaking God’s plans for your child after reading a verse like this? Perhaps you think that God’s plans for Jeremiah were unique, and that God didn’t really have plans for Jeremiah’s brother or sister. Perhaps, but Psalm 139 would indicate every child is uniquely gifted for the role they will eventually perform in God’s marvelous play. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16 ESV) My logic says that if God has numbered our days and has ordained each and every one of them, I think He has also ordained my vocation (from the Latin vocatio which means to call or a calling). If the Latin means a call, who is doing the calling? Get my point?
And for all of us who think we are directing or misdirecting the steps of our children, God’s word says this: The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 ESV)
So moms, RELAX. I mean it. Stop fretting over every little detail. Give yourselves credit where credit is due which means it is up to you to raise your child in a loving and firm environment but give God the credit He is due, which means leave the destiny decisions to Him.