A parent’s primary role

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BETTINNA CARLOS

Last Sunday’s message in church about materialism made me recount what I shared with you in my previous Mummy Bites column, as well as reassess and realign my priorities.

For Fathers, it is very clear that their primary role in the family is to be a provider. Mothers, on the other hand, are the caretakers, nurturers, queens of the kitchen and daily operations and finance managers of the home.

Now, as a Christian single mother, my priorities are [supposedly and generally]very clear, as taught in church: God first, child second (since I have no spouse), work comes third and then ministry. But you know how sudden turns in life often jumble those up and you end up restless and consumed by the daily demands that only a strong rebuke will be the only means to make you stop in your tracks.

We all know that work is good. God wants us to work and work is a manifestation of blessing in our lives (though blessings are not always only material and tangible). The Book of Proverbs is rich in warnings against laziness and also provides encouragement and leading to work as hard as the ants (Proverbs 6:6-9). God also wants us to be hardworking—that is being good stewards of opportunities He allows in your life.


However, although work is good, when it becomes the ultimate priority in one’s life, then it becomes counterproductive and sinful. Let me explain better through a dialogue I had with my daughter after church:

So I was explaining to my little one about not loving money or the things of this world (Hebrews 13:15); that there are more important things to life than working and earning money, and that God is faithful to provide for all our needs. We should always fully trust Him. And so I wrap up our little sharing and ended it by asking her to enumerate priorities in life.

Mummy Bites and Gumy’s revelatory magic moment for restoration

Me: So Gummy, what is most important?

Gummy: God.

Me: Yes. Okay. Next?

Gummy: Baking.

My eyes started to well up in no time. I felt so ashamed for making my daughter feel that baking (work) was more important than her. What a loud and strong rebuke! I told Gummy to sit on my lap and with tears she wiped off herself, I apologized to her for making her feel that way. I felt like a hypocrite at that very moment—not walking my talk, not practicing my preaching. I was spending more time working than with her, when she is supposed to be of more importance.

But that’s not all. In line with materialism, I wanted to dig deeper and see if my daughter was really absorbing the value of the hard work I model. I wanted to know if it was clear to her why I do what I do at the rate I do things. So I asked, “Why do you think Mummy works hard, baby?” And she replies with the most truthful yet heartbreaking answer: “So we can buy sofa and aircon.”

The last thing I ever want my child to see or learn is that I work to buy; Just to buy and do the things we want.

That short conversation made me think through why it came off to my daughter as that. Of course I was expecting that she would say to put food on the table, so she can go to school, and things like that.

As parents, we naturally justify the time we do not spend with our kids as time we use to work to secure their future—it is for them anyway. Yes and no. Of course it is for them. But is it only and solely for them? Or is there some amount of pride in the mix?

Hard work paying off means more funds for the wants. Because when we are able to give beyond what we can, we become proud. Painfully speaking, it is pride in our capacity for provision and self-glorification that sometimes drive us to want to earn more. Why? Because humans are naturally inclined to think that blessings are always in material form.

When there is an increase in earnings, wealth, or ownership we therefore feel we are blessed and we are such hardworking parents but honestly, it is not always the case.

I am saying all this to call the attention of every working parent and do some introspection today. Why do we work so hard? What is our true motive? Do we work to the point of exhaustion to still provide for our families, or out of a lack of trust in the Lord to provide? Give this a thought: You are first called to be a parent (Psalm 127:3), than your position in your job. Know your calling and priorities. And remember, God wants us to bear fruit, not just be busy.

I praise God for how He has revealed my lack of trust in His sole provision. How He bluntly rebuked me through the lips of my daughter. As well as how He allows this to be a moment of reminder, rerouting, reassessment, realignment and restoration. I thank the Lord for the grace of His forgiveness and His mercies that are new every morning. The following day, Monday, I started my day with the perspective that I will do my best still, but strive to earn just enough and never to aspire for too much.

Hebrews 13:15 (NLT) says “Do not love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never leave you, I will never abandon you.’”

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