When I was asked,”How do you balance raising five children in a blended family – all with different needs and different life experiences? How can we, as their parents, parent them differently without them feeling we are choosing one over the other?”
What a loaded question! It is these type questions that cause me to be thankful that I get the opportunity to get out of the way and only the wisdom of the all-knowing God can shine light in the places we are seeking to understand. As a parent, I am continuously being challenged and growing and failing and seeking the Lord to give me wisdom as I desire to be a good steward of the gifts He has given – my children.
This question is not only applicable to blended families, I believe this can be a struggle for the family that is completely intact. Each child is a different person. Yes, they may share characteristics but their soul and heart is uniquely created by God. Even in the most traditional family children can have different life experiences. If you were to talk with me and talk with my brother you could wonder if we grew up under the same roof with the same set of parents. Whether extreme or minor, I am sure you have similar experiences of different perspectives and different experiences than your siblings. With that being said, I think the best way for me to answer the first question is to focus on balance.
Balancing our time and attention and influencing each child that the Lord has put into our care is one of the greatest challenges of parenting. I don’t know that viewing balance as equal time with each child is the best definition. Instead, what if we really understood what our child needs and we become intentional about meeting their unique need. King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, wrote these words, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”. I want to focus on the first part of the verse not because it is more important but I want to answer the main question. If we as parents are to train up our child in the way he/she should go it will require not only my investment of time but knowing them. We are to prepare them for what they are designed for, to live life for God and for others. It will be in the knowing that we will have the necessary discernment to see the area of their life that are the weak places and need to be strengthened. The temptation is to give excuse or ignore the areas that are in need of more attention: character, work ethic, friendships. communication, how they respond to negative emotions, and more… Parenting is not for the weak at heart. The training takes time and knowing, but everyday we have to have a plan of how our child should go. I am so grateful that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning! Ask yourself, how can you train more intentionally (it will be different with each child) and have a plan that is active for today but will also extend for generations to come.
“In parenting, the days are long but the years are short.”