The Parenting Puzzle


Wouldn’t it be nice if parenting was like a jigsaw puzzle?

Last fall, our family took a trip away from the city, away from work. We found a cabin up in the mountains and unplugged for a few days.

One of our favorite unplugging activities is to do puzzles.

You probably know the best way to complete a puzzle...

  1. After you’ve flipped all the pieces right-side up and you’ve positioned the box cover to your liking, you find all of the edge pieces and start putting your border together.
  2. Once the border is complete, you look for recognizable and distinguishable chunks of the image that stand out from the rest. After assembling two or three of these chunks, you find pieces that connect them together.
  3. Finally, you have to piece together the rest; usually a cloudy sky or – as the case was with our puzzle – an autumnal tree.

Wouldn't it be nice if parenting was like a puzzle?

  1. You start knowing what the finished product will look like.
  2. The boundaries are established at the beginning.
  3. You have all the pieces you need … and none that you don’t.

Back at the cabin, we started out with an upbeat spirit, knowing our time to finish the puzzle was limited. Unfortunately, after several fairly successful hours, we ran into quite a conundrum.

After being stuck for some time, my wife decided to make sure we had all the pieces to our 500-piece puzzle (we didn't). Then we realized that we had a piece or two that simply did not fit our puzzle (they were from another puzzle in the cabin).

The reality of parenting is that we don’t have a box cover to go by, the boundaries aren't always clear, and sometimes you have to overcome several missing pieces – or handfuls of pieces from other puzzles thrown in from every direction.

Thankfully, Christ gave us a model of grace to raise our kids. It’s up to us as parents to put the puzzle together. It’s up to us to put boundaries in place. It’s up to us to find all the pieces necessary and throw out the ones that don’t fit, don’t match or don’t move us forward in order to complete the “big picture.”

Question: How do you keep out the “extra pieces” being thrown into your parenting puzzle? How do you respond to advice that doesn’t fit your family’s DNA?

Contributed by Sam Hoover 

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