Day by day, I’m learning more and more about this wonderful assignment called parenting. I am nowhere near an expert. However, I don’t mind sharing what I know and what I have learned. I think we should exercise caution when criticizing and attempting to “school” parents. Parenting is one of the toughest and greatest responsibilities a person could ever have. Marrying someone is important, but typically, you shouldn’t have to raise an adult. And even if the person you marry turns out to be immature, it isn’t your responsibility to raise them. Yet it is your responsibility to raise an innocent child you brought into the world. Every one’s circumstances differ. Some parents are under way more pressure than others. I have discovered since beginning my blog that whether a mother is single or married, mothers in general face unique challenges and difficulties that are simply specific to motherhood. So as I write this, I am sober in my approach and compassionate in my tone. This is not a reprimand of poor parenting or even an attempt to chastise any mother or father.
It is a sincere desire to share what I know and what I have learned.
Having said that, I want to talk about how important it is for us to use the correct definition of things. Parenting is not a job. Why is that so critical? The reason is because a “job” is an assignment for which you earn a wage. If your expectation is to earn something from all your efforts in parenting, you will be severely disappointed. This disappointment could lead to a host of negative actions such as depression and child abuse. Children can’t pay you back for what you do, nor should they be expected to. Spouses, significant others, family and friends can’t pay you back for the sacrifices you make for the sake of your children. So if parenting isn’t a job, what IS it? Parenting is a duty. Duty is defined as “(of a visit or other undertaking) Done from a sense of moral obligation rather than for pleasure; A moral or legal obligation; a responsibility”.
Parents have a moral and legal responsibility to care for their children.
Now that we have a more accurate definition of parenting, what does that have to do with how we engage our children? For starts, parents who operate under a definition of moral and legal obligation and responsibility as opposed to treating their responsibility as a “job” can in turn raise children who live with the same attention to moral and legal obligations in their own lives. Never has a generation felt such a strong sense of entitlement as those that we see today. Never have we seen a generation such as this one that expects everything to come to them without any responsibility. I’ve been thinking of this notion of allowance for some time now. I’m not totally against children having an allowance if they also have duties for which they do not receive monetary compensation. This is reality and this is how we go about raising productive citizens, both in their secular and religious communities. Some things you do simply because it is RIGHT, not because there’s something in it for you. You pick up trash on the ground because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s your job. You recycle not because you have to, but because you care about your environment and wish to make it better. You volunteer within your community and church not just to pad your future resume and network, but because you desire to contribute to the world in which you live. It is right to look after the poor and elderly. It is right to mentor youth and volunteer your time in food pantries and soup kitchens. It’s ok if no one knows every good deed that you do. It’s fine if you’re not always acknowledged openly for what you do. Your Heavenly Father sees everything that you do and is standing by with your reward.
Everyday, mothers and fathers face their duties of parenting with strength and resolve. Although Mother’s and Father’s Day are nationally recognized holidays, one day out of the year hardly compensates for years of self sacrifice and devotion. If there weren’t any national holidays, there would still be innocent children in need of responsible and loving parents. God so loved us first, not because we deserved His love or that He stood to reap any benefit from His efforts. He loves us for reasons we have yet to fully understand. As we look to the love of God and how He loves us without expecting anything in return, we must in turn mirror this same love in our relationship to our children and loved ones.
Love is a duty, not a job.