Parenting as children

I’m finding these days bruising. Between my wife and I we have 8 days of work to squeeze into 5 days each week. We are sharing the time with our children, so that one works in (peaceful) isolation, while the other is a mixture of referee, teacher and bringer of light relief to our children. My particular struggle is disproportionate disappointment when the children demonstrate that they are … children. That is, they are prone to accidents, likely to discourage each other and sometimes lost in bouts of frustration. In short, my children need me to parent them! I often get to the end of the day needing to apologise to them. It’s not quite a daily routine, but it feels like it. I wake up, praying and hoping for days of love, patience and encouragement. We pray for this together. Yesterday afternoon, we celebrated together how God had answered our prayers – we had peace as we worked and peace in the local park. (I chose not to highlight what had happened in our morning!)

This is just my story. Lockdown means that the spectrum of experience will be even wider than normal. After recording a podcast with Dr Duncan Forbes on “Lockdown on an estate,” I am very aware that this season makes difficult lives much harder. Those without income, space, loving company or health will be needing far more of the Lord’s grace.

Dearly loved children

In our podcast series for families in lockdown we’ve been looking at Ephesians. These verses speak of the gentleness and grace that we show one another in the big Christian family, and that we surely aim to show one another in our smaller lockdown families:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 4:32-5:2)

Before we are parents, we are dearly loved children. We have a Father. We are loved. We have been forgiven. We have had another serve us (when we were unappreciative and mono-syllabic in response).

Whether we are parents, or those who work with parents, let us keep remembering that our goal now, as always, is to follow God’s example, living lives of love. That may not feel productive, when our work commitments mount. That may not feel successful, when our time together feels like hard graft without visible fruit. However, parenting has always been about fruitful growth; organically slow, hard to discern by sight, needing constant care to nurture and requiring an eye firmly on the future when the harvest will come.

Telling the story

We at Faith in Kids, are in the strange position of being more able to help families in this season than we are normally. We love the stories we’re hearing of God using our efforts to bring some families closer to Christ. We all need to hear stories of hope and encouragement. We are all in some form of isolation. We need to hear that God is at work in others, as we pray he is in us. We are prevented from doing many things at the moment, but we are still able to live as children of our heavenly Father. No virus can stop us living as children of the light. For that is what we are.

It is strange to wonder what our children will remember of this time. I am forcing myself to remember that it will not be their fractions, ratios or hard words. They will not recall the daily reports of nationwide deaths. It will be lost to them which of our work deadlines we achieved. They will remember the time spent together. They will remember godly routines (even if they do not last) that for these months sustained their family. They will remember our love, kindness and compassion, our humble repentance when we failed, and our forgiving one another. They will remember us praying together, depending on our heavenly Father.

God bless you as dearly loved children as you live lives of love.

This article first appeared in Evangelicals Now.