How to Keep Your Sanity as a Parent
The importance of staying balanced
Doug Britton, MFT
Introduction to “How to Keep Your Sanity as a Parent”
Whether you are married or a single parent, parenting is hard work. It can drain you physically, mentally, and emotionally. The following guidelines can help you maintain your “sanity” as a parent.
For more information about this topic, read Parenting Foundations: Nurturing with Insight, Disciplining with Love.
As you study the following outline, score yourself from 0 to 10 on each point.
- “0” means “I really need to improve in this area.”
- “10” means “I’m doing great in this area.”
Do not center your whole life around your children
Parenting takes time, yet many times parents “sacrifice” important things that in the long run harm their children. You are a better parent when you add some balance into your life.
Ask yourself how well you do in these three important areas:
- Spend time with God in prayer and Bible study. My score (0-10): ____
- Spend some time away from home (in Bible study, bowling, taking a class, etc.). My score (0-10): ____
- Spend time with your spouse. My score (0-10): ____
Expect problems—without fear
Christian parents often feel like failures or are embarrassed when their children have problems.
Yet there is no reason to feel like a failure or to feel embarrassed when your children misbehave.
All children are imperfect. Problems and misbehavior are part of life’s experiences. Even God, who was (and is) a perfect parent, saw his kids (Adam and Eve) disobey his rules. Since God’s children disobeyed him, you can be sure yours will sometimes disobey you.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6)
Expecting problems. My score (0-10): ____
Related: God’s love for me
Treat problems as learning opportunities
Look at your own life. If you are like most people, much of what you have learned about life has come through your faults, failures, and sins. The same will be true for your children.
When they mess up, approach them with the attitude of helping them learn from their mistakes. Restore them gently.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. (Galatians 6:1)
When your children have a problem, it also presents you with a learning opportunity, for God can help you grow personally as you go through trials.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
Treating problems as learning opportunities. My score (0-10): ____
Don’t expect children to be perfect when they leave home
It’s common for Christian parents to become increasingly frantic as their children grow older and approach the time of leaving home. Parents want the very best for their children and sometimes can’t stand the thought that their kids aren’t “ready” for life.
Of course, we want to prepare our children as best we can, but the bottom line is that no one, except Jesus, has been perfect before leaving home. Your children will make mistakes after they leave home … just as you do.
Accepting that my children will leave home imperfect. My score (0-10): ____
Pray for your children and put them in God’s hands
God loves your children even more than you do. Be sure to turn them over to him daily. Pray for them faithfully, and then leave them in his hands.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Trusting God. My score (0-10): ____
Related: Bible studies on personal growth
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About Doug Britton, MFT
Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)
Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.