Let me start by saying I am not the authority on the subject of parenting. I have to say that I know there have been many greats, a few misses and some really big flops in my experience parenting children in the assemblies.
I can tell you though, what I have observed and my thoughts on what I see. In the assemblies I see a great many folks who play very important roles in a child’s life. The elders and their wives who will embrace the children and animatedly gush over Sunday School drawings and Christmas performances. There often is a candy person and the children instinctively seek out their position during the Breaking of Bread meeting so that the moment meeting is over, there is a swarm around them as they pull out the bag to share the sweet treats.
There are the teens and young adults who engage the younger ones in tag or climbing the support poles in the basement. There are the faithful Sunday School teachers who field the most interesting questions then fill parents in on the discussion that was had. There are the other parents who know and ask questions about the soccer game or school because they have these kids over often for sleepovers or birthday parties all the time.
An Assembly Thing
Parenting is not just a parent thing, it’s an assembly thing. But that can become a tough thing for young mothers. Young mothers are seeing many other mothers in their assembly and taking notes on how they discipline, how their children are taught to address adults, and what rules they have about books in meeting or friends coming over on a Sunday afternoon and yes, they are weighing in their minds whether to homeschool or not.
I have to say I have had many friends wonder if they are doing the right thing based on what other mothers are doing or saying. As if there is a secret code we have to figure out and then we will know exactly what to do in every situation with a quick solid response. I know for myself, I have spent many years questioning every decision or discipline I make wondering if this is what “so and so” would do. I was always asking for advice and apologizing or explaining my methods of parenting.
After too many years, I discovered that I just could not be a match in the competition for “best mother” award because there is always someone better that comes along to make your best look pretty sad. There will be someone who keeps their children fully entertained with adventurous biology explorations and taking splendid baked confections and little handmade cards that were clearly made by little hands to the elderly neighbors to share. They don’t need TV, neither do they desire it because they have plenty to do with Mom.
No Need to Compare
It took a few years but I finally learned that my best (sad though it may be) is part of why God put our family together like He did. He knows that my children and my husband and I are a perfect combination to make the family that He wants to reveal to others as an image of God’s unconditional, unfavored, merciful, gracious and overflowing love to others! One of the things I love about the Bible is that it is not filled with the recounting of the lives of perfect people and all their accomplishments but rather full of events surrounding imperfect people making mistakes and God using them for something really awesome and incredible!
I do my best, but I pray that God will make up for the lack and I know the wonderful assembly folk have a big part in that.
Every family is different and every child in every family is different and no one method of parenting will work perfectly for every family let alone every child and I hope that young mothers recognize this and not push their methods on others by way of advice.
To me, there is nothing like the family of God that surrounds our children with love, attention and heartfelt interest. We have plenty to offer not only our own children but other children in our assemblies when we humbly acknowledge that God is the giver of all things good and that He will direct our paths when we acknowledge Him.