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“My kids are everything to me.”
“My kids are my world.”
Often when I hear someone say these things, I smile and nod because I know what they mean–but in the back of my head I have this inner conversation with myself.
It goes something like this:
“Are our kids supposed to be our world and our everything?”
“I’ve never said either one of those things.”
“I do love my kids though, really.”
And then I launch into this inner dialogue with myself that can go on for quite a while.
Now before I go any farther, let me assure you that I do know what *most* moms mean when they say something like that, and I *know* that they probably also have their heads on straight, their priorities in order, and they and I are probably on the same page. There is nothing, NOTHING, wrong with making your kids a high priority and loving them to bits. Because I’m right there with you.
On the other hand, if a mom really were to make her kids the number one priority in her life,..well, are we supposed to do that?
Why My Kids Aren’t My “Everything.”
There’s only one who is my everything.
God is my everything. That may be a given when someone talks about their kids being their world, but we have to make sure we are aware that it is truly possible to put motherhood or our kids before the Lord, even without realizing it, and that’s not healthy. God doesn’t like it, it’s not healthy for our relationship with him, or with our kids.
Now that we have addressed that given, and reminded ourselves not to make an idol of motherhood:
There’s only one person on this planet is is my number one.
My husband is my number one. When two get married, they become one flesh. He is mine and I am his; we are two halves of a whole. If I were to put my kids before my husband, I would be wedging them between that and it would negatively affect my marriage.
Of course there will be times when, in a given moment, a child needs more immediate help and I will ask my husband to wait a moment. When our children are very young and need to be nursed, that is a pretty urgent priority. I’m not suggesting that you ignore your starving baby to cook your husband’s dinner. If, however, I were to have given up on cooking altogether during those nursing months to let my husband fend for himself, he would have felt second priority to my relationship with our child and I wouldn’t have wanted him to feel that way. See the difference?
Bearing in mind that there are moments where a kid takes priority, I want my husband to know that his relationship is my most important relationship and that I am not making him second place to anyone else.
The heart is pretty cool, though. I love God with all my heart. I love my husband with all my heart. I love my kids with all my heart. It just works that way.
The Kids Don’t NEED to Be Number One
Our lives, and the world, does not revolve around our kids. It’s hard enough to teach kids that they are not the center of the universe without encouraging that mindset. When our kids are born, everyone does serve them, they are completely reliant on the grown-ups in their lives to meet their every need. As kids grow, they are raised to be more and more independent. Often this is met with resistance. ; )
Trying to remember not to do too much for my kids now that they are older, training them to be self-sufficient – this is hard enough on its own. I often realize that I’m not getting it quite right. If I were to put my kids first, I would be sure to spoil them into thinking that they needed to come first all the time in every way.
(Have we not read many an article about a spoiled generation of kids already?)
But enough about what our children don’t need.
Some Things Our Kids Do Need
Our Kids Need to Know They Are Loved – They need time and attention, they need to know that we care for them and that they are a priority and important to us. Our kids need to feel like we are listening and not ignoring them, and that we are at least trying to understand them and not belittling them.
Our Kids Need to Feel Secure – Big house, little house, it doesn’t matter if the kids don’t feel like we are reliable and trustworthy. The kids need to know that they can come to us, talk to us, and confide in us–and they need to feel listened to. They need to feel safe in this relationship with their mom and dad. Also, whether they agree or not, kids need boundaries and at least a little bit of routine and order to feel secure.
Our Kids Need To See a Good Example – Essential for raising children who don’t think the world serves them, our children need to see us leading a good example with our priorities straight. They need to see us putting God first in our lives. They need to see us putting our husbands first in our relationships. And they need to see us making their own needs a priority as well.
There is more that they need, obviously–but certainly, what our kids don’t need is to be number one.
I love my kids with all my heart.
I LOVE MY KIDS. They are incredibly important to me. I give them loads of time and attention. I try to give them what they need and much of what they want. I encourage them to put others first, but I’m not putting them last, either.
God is first. My husband is my other half. My kids are my remaining priority right now until the day they move out on their own. I can’t overstate the priority-level of raising and teaching my kids right now-it’s crazy huge. I only get one shot at raising them and the time is flying by.
One day, our kids will be grown. Lord willing, they will follow hard after God and put Him first in their lives. Lord willing, they will find wonderful husbands and wives to be their other halves. Lord willing, they will one day have their own children to raise and love and nurture and grow. And at that time, if I have made them a priority but not my all in all, my children will be able to separate from this parental relationship enough they can take on their own God-given priorities successfully.
Until that day, God has given me the job of training these precious little hearts. And that is why my children are a huge blessing, a huge challenge, a huge responsibility and a huge joy – but not my everything.
I will continue to love my children deeply even when they are grown and married, that much is certain. A mother’s job is to raise able adults who love God and their families with right priorities. But a mother’s love? A mother’s love will keep going after those babies grow up and have their own.
Photo Credit: Anna Langova