BY CURTIS HONEYCUTT, GRACE ATTENDER
You didn’t realize parenting was a competition? I guess you probably haven’t been on Facebook or Instagram anytime in the last...forever. Even within your own household, there are some things your spouse does way better than you and you’d really like to defeat them at it one of these days.
Whether you grew up around Indiana or not, our cultural Midwestern sensibilities simultaneously make us incredibly competitive and hyper humble. So we find ourselves silently striving to be the best. At everything.
So I promised to give you the single-most effective parenting hack out there, and here it is:
Get personally healthy.
...wait a second...that can’t be right, right? We’re supposed to make our kids our number one priority!
A few years ago in our series, A New Kind of Parent, Dave Rod’ stressed how critical it is for parents to be personally healthy. In that message, Dave posited that if you aren’t healthy, your children won’t be either. Not only that, but if you have lost your soul, then don’t be surprised when your children do. Ouch.
At the time, I didn’t have kids (now I have two, see how cute they are below). This message seemed like a real Jesus juke, promising parenting advice but then just saying “get your spiritual ducks in a row.” I was hoping for something along the lines of “how to potty train your child before he turns one” or “how to get your kids to love vegetables.” Instead, I heard that wholistic self-care for moms and dads is the best way to raise good kids.
Take care of yourself first.
I thought we were never supposed to put ourselves first!
But, it’s true: first, we must prioritize our own health over that of our kids. It’s like when the flight attendant tells you in case of an air emergency to put your own oxygen mask on first, then help your child. No one argues with that.
You are not your child.
In addition to that, we have to stop tying our personal wellbeing to the condition of our children. Again, this is pretty countercultural. But you’re not your child. You’ve got to remember that. Your kids are going to make their own decisions. Some of them will be bad. If you only live vicariously through your children, when they mess up you’re going to be a hot mess yourself.
Commit to ongoing self-care.
Who you are inside and what you do with your life are essential to your overall health. Parents with healthy character and clear calling get it right. Developing healthy character involves ongoing practices like self-denial, working on moral integrity and daily surrendering to God. Aspects of clear calling include practicing things like generosity, justice and mercy, and regularly engaging in authentic community. Dave describes these practices (and more) in the message.
I triple-dog dare you.
If you’re skeptical like I was, I dare you to give these things a try. Seriously. I dare you. Combining all these practices at the same time may be realistically impossible (because who has the time), so maybe start with the easiest one for you. Then slowly sprinkle in the remaining activities into your life, one at a time. Better yet, find someone you look up to in the parenting arena and ask her to take you under her wing. I’ve found that I’m at my best as a parent when I’m healthy in body, mind, and spirit.
What you’ll find as you continue to build acts of wholistic self-care into your daily routine is that when you’re healthy, you’ll be an awesome parent. And awesome parents win parenting.