Have you ever considered parenting as a group sport? Maybe you should! I am convinced that this parents vs. kids mentality we have in our current culture is not exactly how it was intended to be. Let’s look at this in a little more detail. We will start with a short jaunt through history.
Many, many moons ago families were identified by clans. This meant that you, your siblings, your cousins, and on down the line lived in relativity close proximity to each other (i.e. in the next tent) and shared most things. Family members were expected to offer help and receive help as needed. Just look at Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Granted, they left Jesus in Jerusalem for a few days. Not because they were bad parents though, but because there was an understanding that the “family” was larger than the three of them.
We move forward a few hundred, or thousand, years and we have the creation of the family unit. You know, Mom, Dad, 2.5 kids, a dog and half a cat running around on its front legs. We now have our own homes and lives. However, Uncle Bob is just down the road, as is the rest of the family. We still have the expectation and understanding that help was available if and when it is needed. After all, we are all family and that is what family does.
Okay, moving on now few more decades to modern times. We live in Iowa and our closest blood relatives are 250 miles away. We see each other a few times a year and talk often. Unfortunately we haven’t found a way for Nanny to change a diaper over the phone, at least not an affordable one. Yeah, we have many ways to keep the relationships active and strong. However, the understanding and expectation now is that when it comes to actually doing things, we are on our own. We now have the privilege of being Super Parents!!
Okay, so maybe we can do it, but it sure isn’t any fun. Good thing there is a solution. Yep, there is a solution and it is even mutually beneficial to all involved. It just takes some honesty and humility. What is it? Well, it is friendship. Real friendship! It is the type of friendship that we often don’t have time for anymore.
If we are willing to invest time in our close friends and truly form a community then life gets a little easier. I can list over a dozen families that Kim and I would be happy to help out (watch kids, run an errand, share a toy or tool, etc.) at a moments notice. Even better, I can list a dozen that would be willing to help us (and have). The trick is being willing to accept ask for help when we need it.
For Kim and me, our Church has become this community. It truly has become our “close to us” family and is a HUGE blessing. They have saved our sanity with big needs such as two months of bed rest. They have also simplified life with small needs such as watching the kids during a dental appointment or bringing their kids over to burn off some extra energy all around. Yeah, we like to think of parenting as a group sport!
If this sounds like something you might need but don’t have, I strongly encourage you to check out a strong Church in your area. You may be surprised at the friends you find. If you are already a part of such a parenting team, I would love to hear a story about how your friends have offered you a hand or vice-versa. So, how about it? Are you on a team or walking on the field alone?