Parenting is an imperfect science in which we are constantly trying to replicate our own parents’ successes and fix their mistakes, only to make our own. And while each family has to make decisions about how they gauge what their children are exposed to, we should do so with the knowledge that we won’t be able to protect them forever and teachable moments can be had even as we snuggle in front of the television with our kiddos.
Thriving is not achieved through the relentless pursuit of success. It is achieved through time and the freedom to explore. It is achieved through emotional and financial security. It is achieved through support and nurture. We know this and yet it is still one of the most difficult parenting pursuits for Americans. Some of us face very real roadblocks which need to be removed by changed policy. Some of us are so focused on our missed opportunities that we struggle to see how our desire to make sure our kids also don’t miss out might be impacting our kids. Some of us just don’t understand the systemic pressures that are weighing down our adolescents because that pressure just wasn’t there when we were kids.
Since we are almost through the Christmas season and contemplating a new set of resolutions as we look forward to a (hopefully) greatly improved 2021, here are the four home items that our family has decided we just can’t do without.
After years of paying for electricity, we’re now overly concerned with not paying for electricity (especially while we are going to be paying off the solar panels for awhile). We know that for the first couple months of solar ownership we are going to be dealing with shorter winter days and cloud cover more days than not. But we’ve learned that even on cloudy days when it isn’t storming, we are still producing electricity. We’ve also learned that we can control our usage and hopefully we will finally develop the better habits we’ve been telling ourselves we were going to do years ago.
I believe there are important lessons in having our kids play but not making it the central focus of their lives or the lives of the entire family. We still need to make space for family vacations, summer jobs, worship, academics, and yes, general leisure. I believe that one of the reasons that we struggled so much as a society when everything initially shut down due to COVID-19 was that we had been running ourselves ragged, and nowhere was this more true than in our overscheduled family lives.
I want my kids to see morality as following Jesus’s example and not just acting as perfectly as possible. I want my kids to embrace the idea of “good trouble” and understand that doing the right thing isn’t always considered the socially appropriate thing. I don’t want them to believe that sacrificing for saying they are followers of Jesus is enough; I want them to be willing to sacrifice for being like Jesus. I want them to love mercy and walk humbly.