Welcome to the Good Enough is Good Enough Book Club! We’re reading Good Enough is Good Enough by Colleen Duggan.
Confession 5 & Conclusion – “I sometimes compare myself with other parents”
It’s the same old comparison game, and as mothers such a game tends to be more competitive and outlandish than in any other area of life. Is it because this role is all-encompassing? Maybe people are so quick to judge because we expect that every action of a child is a reflection of its parents, rather than acknowledging the battle of free will and the tendencies remaining from original sin. We assume that the accomplishments or failures of our children solely reflect our parenting decisions, tactics, and overall control. It is naïve to create this direct correlation, as we forget a very important factor. We are forgetting the role that God plays not only in our daily lives, but in the lives of our children. These beautiful gifts sent from heaven are not for our own satisfaction but they are souls created in the image and likeness of God. They are to be raised with a purpose much higher than of this earth – a call towards sainthood.
Often as Catholic moms, we find ourselves in a web of expectations. Not necessarily our own high standards or even those expected by God, but unrealistic ideals placed upon us by the world and even by fellow Catholics.
It is easy, especially, in the early stages of parenting to read the latest books, follow the child-rearing trends, and attempt to chase ridiculous expectations. It’s a trap that finds us vulnerable and sometimes unwilling participants. We are creating a life that is not in line with God’s Will. In Confession 5 of Good Enough is Good Enough, Colleen Duggan describes those pressures in her early days of motherhood. She strove to bypass potential judgments from the outside world, but ultimately some of these practices were unrealistic for her family.
As parents we get caught up in the necessity to provide the most well-rounded and structured atmosphere for our children at all times, but such desires are impractical and selfish. We forget that we are human and not God. We do not possess the ability to create a perfect world or a perfect home. Each of us has been given, by God, specific talents to best fit our lives and families. So instead of creating a world that bubbles dissatisfaction, we must strive as mothers to discover our own talents and to use those in conjunction with our parenting styles.
God calls all families to love, follow, and serve Him, but the way in which He calls us to do it looks different for everyone. -Colleen Duggan
There are many facets of family life that have dwindled due to our overly regulated and exposed culture. But now might be the time to question the overall goodness in such activities. Do we put family first? After all, our children may not have the same friends in ten or twenty years, but they will always have their siblings. Do we find it difficult to even sit down for family dinner?
There is much more to childhood than weekday athletic practices, weekend play performances, and the best, most expensive tutors. Childhood is where we learn to dream beyond this world. Childhood is the time when innocent souls have the ability to explore the spiritual and creative, the world beyond the black and the white. In this world, children learn to love and find security within the family unit. The focus on family life has deviated to unhealthy levels of selfishness, loneliness, and lack of will power.
As a society, we have traveled so far from a simple and loving home centered around Christ that many try to fill that void with non-stop activities. Our culture thrives on food, and not always food that is beneficial for our bodies, but it no longer understands the importance of family meals. We lack the ability to appreciate that food and faith bring us together – not only eating the food, but cultivating it, shopping for it, prepping it, and finally serving it to those we love while acknowledging who we are dependent upon – God. If we brought back these sacred activities into the lives of our families and friends, there would be quite a change in the culture.
Not only does the shift in culture need to focus on the needs of the family unit, but as parents striving towards Our Lord, we must also allow ourselves to give in: not to the whims of our children but to the Will of God. Colleen Duggan uses the example of a donkey who will fight and kick with an extreme level of stubbornness, but also how this same animal can be hardworking and seek peace. The personality behind the donkey, which carried Our Lady into Bethlehem and Our Lord on Palm Sunday, should also be a reference point for us. We fight and kick towards our goals and our desires without stopping to patiently uncover God’s Will for our family. It may take a level of humility on our part, to beautifully submit to Our Lord and thereby find freedom through ultimate submission just as the donkey did.
To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
- Have we recently examined our schedules? Do we spend more time transporting children around to activities instead of spending time as a family unit? Can adjustments be made to our daily lives in order to focus on quality time with our family which gives honor and glory to God? (This may be a great opportunity to include the children in planning family outings or a special dinner celebration.)
- Have we set unrealistic parenting goals that don’t fit well for our family? Set aside a few minutes at the end of each week to reflect on what is and isn’t working. Are our parenting practices in place more to please others rather than to assist the growth of our family?
- By examining the donkey’s service towards Our Lord, do we also submit our daily crosses and personal desires to our vocation or do we kick and fight against His Will for us as we travel the rugged path towards heaven?
Thank you for participating in our Book Club!
Copyright 2018 Danielle Heckenkamp