I absolutely loved Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat. It is not a so-called ‘Christian Book’ but rather a great sociological and historical examination of how technology and political change has altered the way we live. He talks about outsourcing. You are probably familiar with the term. Not to oversimplify, but it is basically when you get someone else to accomplish a task on your behalf.
The social pressures of suburbia collide, placing families in what feels like an impossible situation. To swim downstream in suburbia you must be professionally successful, parentally successful, at least be perceived as a pious person, and last but certainly not least one must be busy. So the suburban family finds itself in the same place as many corporations. There are not enough hours and staff to keep up with everything, so we must outsource some responsibilities in order to continue on our growth curve.
I’m swimming (drowning?) amidst the flow of things as well. This is not the moment where my intent is to make you feel like the worst parent amidst the hundreds of thousands around our community. I have three children. Only two of those three are currently engaged in extra-curricular activities (volleyball and t-ball). I have a very demanding job which necessitates that I work days, many evenings, and much of the weekend. I feel everything you feel and struggle daily along with you.
That being said, the greatest mistake we as parents could ever make is outsourcing our parental endeavors. Let’s get practical.
Never outsource spiritual growth. The idea that any church is spiritually raising your child will result in a child who leaves the home without owning an authentic faith. They should be taught and given this through the words and modeling of their parents.
Never outsource the investment of time. The investment of grandparents, friend’s parents, nannies, coaches, church staff, any babysitters or the like will be of no help to you (or them) when your child is going through one of the many difficulties of life and needing someone who loves them, has invested in them, someone they trust who has spent quantity and quality time with them to really talk through their struggles. Parenting is difficult. Many wise fathers of grown children have shared with me that a real relationship with their child is what carried them through the difficult seasons.
Never outsource accountability and discipline. Our children will have many great friends throughout their lives. Our role as parents is not to be the best of those friends. They will only have us as parents. There is no one else who can carry that great badge of honor and joy. The greatest display of love from a parent can be seen through appropriate accountability and discipline. As hard as it may be for us to realize, they will understand our intentions and it will reap great rewards through a growing relationship when we do not shy away from the difficult conversations of parenting.
The truth we need to be told amidst our culture is that a real love for our children may lead us to a job change, house down-size, car sale, or activity reduction. The title on our business card, our tax bracket, the size of your home, and what model car we drive will will be meaningless the moment we watch our children depart our homes for their own adventure. Be intentional today rather than full of regret when that day arrives.