From Barbara: Dear Reader


Thanks everyone for some really good questions you sent in response to my Friends and Family letter on July 30!

I love the varied generations of my readers, so here are two very different questions—one from a grandma and one from a young mama of two little ones. For these two women, and I hope many others of you, here are my answers … brief, honest, and hopefully helpful as we grow together in Christ.

From Catie:

Thank you for your encouragement and honesty. Since you asked for questions here is mine: I have a 12-week-old and 20-month-old and am returning to work full time this week. My husband is finishing his PhD so I currently do not have the option to stay home, which is what he and I both hope for in the future.

During this season I want to raise my children to love and know Jesus, and I want to love my husband and grow in oneness with him, manage our home to God’s glory, love our neighbors, and work faithfully at my job. Yet, I do not know how to balance all of this well. I would love to hear how you did this with kids (we also hope to have a large family) … faithfully serving the Lord and obediently engaging with the tasks and relationships He set before you.

Sweet Catie,

I’m proud of you for wanting to live for God’s glory. I have lots of thoughts and wish we could have coffee and chat. But for now here are some comments and questions for you to think through, plus a couple book recommendations for you.

First, I want to encourage you to let go of the pressure you feel to balance all the things you listed. You can’t do it all and you’ll only feel like a failure if you try. You really only have three responsibilities: loving God, loving your husband and loving your children. Serving your neighbors and your job are secondary. Not that you should perform poorly at work and insult your neighbors. The best way to balance life in any season is to make sure you invest first and consistently in those three important relationships.

Here are a few questions for you to consider and pray about:

  • Could you evaluate your current job and work with your employer to find a creative way for you to work with flex hours, do more of your job at home, or do some of your work in the evenings after the littles are in bed?
  • Have you and your husband considered a more modest living situation so that you can be with the kids more? A temporary downsize would be worth the time you’d gain with your two precious children.
  • Are you willing to look for another job that would allow you to be at home with your two little ones?

This is a great opportunity for you, Catie, and your husband too, to watch God work in remarkable ways to provide for both your financial needs and for the best care for your children. It’s also an opportunity for you to grow in learning to hear God speak to you specifically. If this is new to you, here are a couple blog posts I’ve written about the Holy Spirit that might be of help:

God cares about your little ones more than you do and He designed them to be raised by you first and foremost. Because you have that God-given desire, I believe God wants to help you fulfill that calling.

One book I recommend is a deeply researched look at the first three years of a child’s life: Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood In the First Three Years Matters, by Erica Komisar. I believe it’s very significant and I wish every young mom could read it. Also I recommend The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson as well as her other books. And I also suggest our book, The Art of Parenting, which covers everything you’ll encounter from toddlers to teens.

Hope this helps. May God provide in ways only He can and may you give Him the praise as you watch Him work.

From Jackie:

I’m a babysitting grandma who sometimes gets taken for granted and bears the verbal outburst of a stressed-out adult child when I’m not available to babysit or didn’t exactly follow their protocol. It hurts.

I feel we grandmothers realize the financial struggle it is today to raise a family, but has that ever not been an issue? If you have any help on this, I’d be grateful and so would a few others. 

Thanks for asking, Jackie.

Generations are different for sure but what we so often can’t see is that both get hurt easily because we love each other more intensely and have higher expectations than we do with friends. Remember that love is there between you and your adult child.

Moms always want our children to succeed at every age and stage of life. It’s in our DNA. So we sometimes continue to sacrifice ourselves for their benefit even to the point of enabling them. So dear Jackie have a conversation with your child and explain that you want to help but that you aren’t willing to be treated rudely when you can’t. Allowing your child to treat you as you describe is allowing this one to sin with no consequences and that isn’t healthy for either of you.

And if the anger at you is an ongoing pattern, then it’s abusive and you cannot keep tolerating it. You have a life, and your child needs to see you live healthy and godly because she will be in your shoes one day. You are still modeling.

Regarding following exact protocols, I suggest letting your child know you intend to do your best to follow the “rules” but you aren’t perfect and might not be able to do it all. Ask your child to prioritize the list so you are sure you do what matters most. And I must say, I hope you aren’t a gramma who listens to the schedules and details and then ignores them as if you know better. Your children will do things differently, and they will answer to God for those little ones not you. So when you respect what they are trying to do, even if you disagree on some points, you demonstrate you love them.

A good book that I think will help both you and your child as you work through the details of babysitting is Boundaries, by Henry Cloud. There are several books on this theme by the same author, but the original one is the best place to start. All relationships need boundaries that are understood and respected. We all flourish more when we know what we can count on.

Ask God to guide you as you insert some healthy boundaries into this relationship. And maybe in others too! And as you experience an improved relationship may you ask God how He wants to use you to help other grammas you know.


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