For years, I have heard it repeated (usually in Christian circles) the importance of having a stay at home parent (usually mom) for kids to grow up healthy. While I still believe that a stay at home parent can have a huge impact on kids, as I got into ministry, I made some surprising discoveries that confronted my assumptions about families with a stay at home parents.
Here’s what I’ve observed about families with stay at home parents in my community:
- Their kids are often the HARDEST to get to youth events. While they typically will be in church regularly (when they are not at hockey, baseball, or marching band), they are more challenging to get to come to youth activities- because they’ve also got boy scouts, sports, choir, band, and a million other activities.
- The stay at home parent is seldom available to help with activities, unless you ask several months in advance. They are tapped for so many activities in their child’s school, band, sports team, etc, that they are just not available. Plus, their children are involved in so many activities that they probably would have to leave in the middle of the night to shuttle somebody to a different place.
- On the upside, these families often make the effort to commit their children to the “big” events- summer camp, servant events, youth gatherings- that will have a lasting “mountaintop experience” impace on their child’s spiritual life.
What does this tell me? It gives me insight in three areas:
- Stay-at-home parenting is not perfect, either. Sin creeps into our best efforts, no matter what. Not being a parent yet, I have no idea what it’s like to set limits on my kids for their activities. I know that these families want the very best for their kids. But I do question sometimes whether they see their kids any more than families with two working parents.
- Youth from a family with a stay at home parent may have different needs. They may get all the fun activities they need in life elsewhere, so fun activities are not going to capture their interest. However, activities providing spiritual growth are a higher priority to these families than the ones that simply build up Christian friendships in a fun way.
- The families here with stay at home parents are also the ones that I believe are most likely to be modeling and talking about Christian faith at home. And if the goal of our ministry is to raise Christian adults, isn’t that what we want anyway?