My oldest daughter had to put on a play with some other kids in her class last week. They had to write the script, make the props and perform the play in front of the rest of the grade. My daughter was really frustrated with her group. Apparently, half the group kept goofing off and not getting the work done. She was very concerned about how well they were going to do when they performed.
My daughter's frustration stemmed from the fact that her grade relied on the actions of others. Simply doing her best was not enough. She needed everyone else to do their best as well. It was an excellent lesson for her to learn how to work together with others toward a common goal.
Parenting is a lot like that group work that my daughter had to do last week. It takes teamwork to be effective. Whether you're married or a single parent, it still takes teamwork. Our kids need to be surrounded by adults who can pour God's wisdom and love into their lives. We need to partner with our churches and our Christian friends to create a circle of people to whom our children can look for wisdom and encouragement.
Make wise decisions about the people whom you allow to become influences in your children's lives. While we want to create a circle of adults whom they can ask for help and advice, we want to make sure those people are going to offer Godly wisdom and advice. To be a team that influences our children, we all have to be moving in the same direction and have the same goals.
2 Corinthians 6:14 says "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" This verse doesn't mean we can't be friends with people who don't follow Christ, but it does mean that we need to not be in a yoked relationship with them -- a relationship in which it is absolutely necessary that we pull in the same direction. Oxen were yoked together so they could share the load of pulling something heavy. When we engage in raising our children, we need our team to all pull in the same direction or we'll be ineffective.
This is especially true of parents. Both parents have to work together as a team. In some situations, that's more difficult than others. Parents who are divorced or separated face challenges as sometimes the kids are exposed to extremely different lifestyles and opinions. In these situations, sometimes all you can control is what goes on in your own home.
But, if both parents are in the home, you have to work together as a team. That means not criticizing the other's parenting in front of your kids. It means talking about your parenting goals and setting the same rules and limits no matter whose in charge. It means deciding what things you want to work on with your kids and both of you following through.
When we work together with our spouses, extended family, friends and our church, we widen the circle of adults who have influence in our children's lives. We create a team of people who are willing to pour God's love and wisdom into our children. If we choose that team wisely, our children will benefit in ways we can't begin to imagine.