“I really do think the challenges facing parents today are far greater than what we had to face raising our children years ago.”
I knew it! These words, straight from a woman decades older than me – a woman who had seen more, lived more, survived more – a woman of not only age, but wisdom, confirmed the answer to the question my mind hand been tossing around for months. Parenting is so much harder these days!
At least, I thought so. I thought this was harder, messier, muddier. I mean, I’m sure parenting has always been messy and muddy, literally, but let’s ratchet up that whole business a bit with social media. Let’s take that angsty teen’s struggle with comparison and sprinkle a little Instagram on top. That middle schooler trying to form friendships and feel included? Let’s give her a 24/7 window into her friends cropped and curated highlight reel.
Childhood adversities, forming friendships, battling comparison, surviving bad choices, we seem to have put every one of those challenges on steroids when we added social media to the mix and we parents get the task of sorting through the ashes.
I just knew parenting was harder these days.
And I breathed a sigh of relief. And yet, I’m not even sure why exactly. Why relief? The pride of…harder?
You see this parenting comparison thing, this life comparison thing, is a game we’ve been playing for years, centuries, maybe. Who had it harder? What situation is or was more challenging? Certainly we all have a parent or grandparent who had to walk to school…uphill…in the snow…both ways, right?
It’s a silly game we play isn’t it? The game of comparison. A game that detracts from the real issue at hand. A game where no one wins. And yet we all fall prey to it occasionally because this modern day parenting thing is. so. hard.
We’re chartering new ground. Ground we not only don’t have parenting experience in, we don’t even have childhood history to fall back on. We didn’t have rules for dealing with social media when I was a kid, because we were still trying to figure out what .com meant. We didn’t have a decent computer until I was nearly ready to leave home and there was no social media. We couldn’t even talk on the phone while using that computer because those horrific internet sounds filled the phone line. (Please tell me someone remembers this?)
The truth is, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter if parenting in the 70’s was harder than the 80’s. Or if the challenges we’re facing as parents have outdone that of the 90’s.
Comparing challenges doesn’t matter because the hope is the same.
Truth is still the same.
Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.
And the realization of this is where my heart finally calms.
God you are here, in a world with social media – in a world that feels more fallen, more competitive, more lethal than ever. God you are still here as I try to guide my girls through seasons with new challenges, challenges that may very well tempt me in all the ways they may seek to tempt them. God you are here when it all feels like too much, too hard; when I don’t have all the answers.
Sure the challenges that face our daughters are changing. Change is constant. But so is He. The Hope for parenting in a modern world is the same as the Hope that served our mothers, our grandmothers before us. Our Hope is Him. Always Him.
So as we take on the struggles of raising girls in a world of social media may we robe them with the armor of Ephesian 6. May we fill them with the unchanging truth that they are loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and may we as mothers, hold fast to the steadfast hope that is the Anchor in changing seas (Hebrew 6:19).
It never has been a question of whether parenting is hard or harder. I assume it always has felt like a challenge to grow and train the hearts of the young in a changing world. But the challenges of parenting in a changing world should always point us back to the One who is unchanging.
God sees us. God sees our girls. He is our hope. And therein lies our answer.