Ideal Family, Part 2
I recently wrote about trying to obtain an ideal family. The ideal family definitely looks different for each individual. Remember the quote regarding the American dream: "2.5 children, white picket fence,etc"? I think it's very important to tune into our expectations about our families. Sometimes, we have unspoken expectations that continue to drive us without even realizing it. If a large family is important to you, you will definitely feel some pressure to continue to grow and perhaps even a sense of dissatisfaction without having attained that standard. Perhaps you dream of a minivan overflowing with kids, laughter, and chaos. Maybe you have decided you just want to focus and raise one child. Perhaps, you want to become a parent so badly, you have decided to adopt as a single parent.
Over the past few years I have noticed a growing trend towards larger families. While I don't have an overall concern with this I have grown concerned at times by an insistence to fulfill an ideal family at the expense of one's existing family. Have you ever witnessed the harried mom who is constantly stressed out and feeling inadequate and yet continues to add more children to her family? Have you heard a husband and wife say that they can't remember the last time they actually sat down and had a real conversation and yet see no concern over adding more chaos to their family? Have you heard a woman say, "I'm tired of waiting for Mr. Right. I'm going to take matters into my own hands"? On the other side of the fence, I have witnessed families completely broken down by infertility struggling to find acceptance for what appears to be a shattered dream for their ideal family. I have cried with friends over losses of pregnancies, lost hopes for healthy babies, breakdowns in the family unit.
I believe God wants more for us and for our families. What if we allowed the Lord to guide and direct our process of growing our families? I have so much admiration for families that are willing to dig deep and put aside their ideals in order to do what's best for their families. I have seen families have a special needs child and suddenly they are faced with a crisis regarding their ideal family. I have seen families accept their infertility and wholeheartedly embrace the prospect of adoption. I have been blessed beyond measure by families who love their foster and adoption children as their very own. I have seen families allow their ideals to be transformed in order to love their special needs child and to provide for them the best way possible, even if that means holding off on growing their families in number. I have seen families put having more children on hold for financial reasons, whether that be a job change or a desire to pay down debt, all for the sake of wanting to do what's best for their children. I have heard a mom say that she wants more children but knows that's not what's best for her whole family and sacrifices that desire. I honor that that kind of honesty and humility.
What if we could take a hard look inside of ourselves and ask what is motivating us to achieve our ideal families? What is it about that ideal that makes us feel complete or whole? I have seen expectations based on ideals cause a lot of pain. I have seen a son feel alienated by his family because he is not successful scholastically. I have seen marriages fail over sick children. I have seen children feel an incredible amount of pressure to fulfill their parent's dreams. What if you are the only girl out of a family of three boys and you learn that you were conceived in order to fulfill your mom's lifelong dream of having a girl. Isn't that a lot of pressure to put on children? What if this girl from three boys turns out to be a tom boy and doesn't meet her mother's girly expectations? Likewise, how many times have you heard children referred to as the "oops baby"? Now I know some people say this in vein but in all seriousness does this not speak again to an ideal family mentality?
What if we could strip all of our expectations of an ideal family and ask the Lord to be the author of our families? Certainly the Lord cares about the desires of our hearts and it never hurts to express that to Him. I happen to believe the Lord's ways are better than mine. That means, he might have plans for my family that I could not have possibly dreamed up on my own. I want to be open to His plans for my life. I have a long way to grow in this area but I am certainly praying for this.