Being a parent is about providing. It’s about providing safety, security, wisdom, direction, food, clothes, and pretty much everything else. You provide for your kids. Now when the kids are small, that provision is a bit less complicated I think.
But with every passing year, that good intention of provision gets more difficult. Here are a couple of ways, as the kids get older, that parents struggle in the area of provision:
1. We struggle to provide enough.
As kids get older, things get more expensive. You have to buy more groceries, more pairs of shoes, and bigger clothes. And, usually, as kids start to grow, they also start to become more specific.
It’s not that they need shoes; it’s that they need those shoes. And it’s not that they need transportation, they need that transportation. This is a hard and sacrificial thing for parents because sometimes – many times – our earning doesn’t exactly keep pace with what the kids need. Or at least what they think they need.
We want our children to trust us. To feel secure with us. And to be comfortable enough with us to let us know what they think we need, even if those expressions of need are sometimes difficult to fulfill. It’s our job, as parents, to interpret the difference between what they think they need, and what they actually need. Which leads to the second struggle with provision:
2. We struggle to provide too much.
The first question is basic; it’s about having enough to provide what our kids need. But this second struggle? It’s deeper because this is an issue of the heart – both ours as parents, and the hearts of our children.
As parents, sometimes the easiest thing is just to say yes. Yes to the ice cream. Yes to the phone. Yes to the shoes or car or college or whatever. Because we know, in the moment, if we say yes, then there is not going to be any conflict. But the easy yes often leads to a pattern of much more difficulty. As parents, we have to have both the wisdom and the backbone to know when to say, “no”, and to stick with it.
We have to remember that even as we are providing for our children, our highest aim as parents is not to raise “happy” kids. It’s to build real people who, by God’s grace, love and serve Jesus. And if that’s the highest goal, then sometimes the best provision is through saying, “no.”
So how do we deal with both of those struggles? For surely we will deal with each one of them in their own time. The short answer is, I think, that we don’t. Instead of finding a silver bullet, this struggle of provision, like all the others, pushes us to our knees and makes us remember that we have a Father who doesn’t struggle at all. He knows how to provide for His children:
“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:11-13).
It’s true, sometimes we don’t know the difference between a fish and a snake. We receive our provision from the Lord and in the moment, and to our eyes, it looks like the latter. It’s only in retrospect do we see the true wisdom and goodness of His provision. Every time, then, we struggle to know just how and what to provide for our children, we should pray and remind ourselves not only that God is our perfect Father, but even in this, when we are asking Him to help us, He is still giving us fish.