Occasionally, I am privileged to speak to a group of teenaged parents. I appreciate these opportunities because I can’t imagine being a high school student and a parent. Just being a parent is hard enough.
When introducing myself, one of the things I choose to do is to tell the group that my wife and I have 4 kids at our house. I then show a picture of 7 kids (see below) and explain that for the time being we have 3 extra kids living with us. Who they are and why is for another time.
I usually say something to the effect of, “I don’t recommend having 7 kids. It isn’t for everyone.” And I mean it. What inevitably happens when I show 7 kids on the screen as I am teaching a class on internet and social media is that some assumptions are made. I do not want one of these assumptions to be that we have it all together. Because often, we don’t.
So what do I want them to hear?
My hope is that when I say, “7 kids isn’t for everyone,” people understand that I am trying to change their perspective in a positive way.
- First of all, we have to be careful comparing what we see of others to what we know to be true about ourselves. If we aren’t careful, we can cripple ourselves because we look around and assume those doing hard things have it figured out and why can’t we. The reality is, most times they have’t figured out any more then we have, and they are probably looking at you thinking the same thing.
- We can be glad that what we are dealing with isn’t harder. I can say, “I believe I would rather have 7 kids at my house than be in high school and try to provide for a child and figure out how to be a dad.” I hope the same is true for young parents. I hope they don’t look at me and think they could do what I’m doing, but rather that it simply gives them hope that it could be harder and they can make it.
- Another reality of why I say having 7 kids isn’t for everyone is that it isn’t! In our culture, we tend to believe some unhealthy norms about how we should live. For example: “You should get married.” “You should got to college.” “You should become what your parents want you to be.” “You should own a house.” “You should buy a car.” Just to name a few. The truth is, we all should take a step back and look at our own unique journey and situation to decide what is best for our plan/life/purpose. I do think that a central driving force can help clarify that, but for this blog simply open yourself up to the idea that some of the assumptions you have held onto for a long time could actually be keeping you from what you really need to do.
- Finally, we can and should look for what we can learn from others around us. It does’t take knowing their whole story because we may literally not have the time for that. However, we can listen intently and consider what we can learn from what we do know. If we all did this instead of trying to get into everyone else’s business, we could each make our self/family/situation better and end up having a positive impact on our direct community.
How do you think about things like this? Does it seem that you find yourself comparing your situation to others all of the time, only to find that you wish you could live someone else’s life? Or maybe you have seen enough life to know you have it pretty good. How can you share that positive experience with those that need a ray of hope to come through in the journey they are traveling?
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