First Things First

Over the past few months there has been a lot of chatter about Amy Chua’s parenting memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I’ve not read the book, but I’ve seen Ms. Chua’s interviews from several sources and read enough reviews to know that her parenting styles and mine are dramatically different from each other.

For starters, I have about four too many children to be an effective Tiger Mother.

Then, I read this article by Deaconess Pamela Nielsen, and I am finally comforted by the fact that God does not expect me to be a Tiger Mother.

While good grades and success seem admirable, and are helpful in our society, we need to be careful about making academic success an idol.

Deaconess Nielsen points out what should be our “first things”, according to God’s word:

If you are a parent, your children are your vocation and your most important calling. God sets the standard for you: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). To raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord is to raise children with God’s Word, in His Church, where His gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation are given to all who believe. These are the “first things” for Christian moms, dads and children.

That is a HUGE responsibility. It almost makes homework checking and instrument practice supervising and sports shuttling and private tutoring seem EASY!

In our family it is a given that the children attend worship and Sunday School every week. They even begrudgingly participate in the various choirs. The boys have been active (or at least underfoot) during the renovation project. BUT, do they understand that these are FIRST things?

As in “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)?

Do they really know, or grasp that what goes on at church on Sunday Morning, and Wednesday night Bible Study, and during time spent memorizing scripture for religion class, and time spent in Sunday School, and Confirmation class, and helping our neighbors in God’s name, ALL of these things are more important than Algebra? Or Boy Scouts? Or even sitting still in class?

And if they don’t know (and I suspect that mine don’t); whose fault is it?

Mine.

While I can claim to not be a “Tiger Mother”, I still secretly hope for all As on report cards more than I expect happy service at church. I praise athletic devotion more than daily devotions. I’m even (especially) guilty of making Sunday morning preparation time less than pleasant for my offspring.

And so, I repent.

I’ve been given an awesome and very important vocation in motherhood, and I pray that I do not fail my children.

Chime in! What has been your focus, your “first thing” in parenting? Do you think that you should, or should have changed course? You know I’d love to hear from you!