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Confessions of a Struggling Young Parent

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As I’m starting to type this, I am on my couch that we turned into a small bed for my son because he randomly began throwing up all over the house, while my wife holds my 5-month old daughter that is too turnt up in the middle of the night.

Being a parent is far from easy; however, it is amazing. My wife is 24 and I am 25. We were married at 21 and had both of our children before we were 24. I’d love for this post to be about how easy and awesome parenting is when you are young but quite frankly, it has been tough for us.

In Christian culture, it has become (or maybe it has always been) popular to marry young and start your family young. I think there is something amazing and wonderful about doing life with the one you love and starting at a young age. I don’t resent getting married young, nor do I resent having children early on in marriage. The growth that is developing during the trials is well worth it.

I will say though, there are things that I wish I would have learned or been more aware of. This post will highlight some of the areas my wife and I have struggled in hopes that it will encourage other young couples out there.

Finances

Christians have a bad reputation of sometimes allowing their faith to rule out logic. It isn’t bad to have faith and believe the impossible. It can be bad when we completely ignore situations in our life and expect faith to cure all of our natural obstacles.

When my wife and I got married, I wasn’t working at the best job, but it was decent. I worked full time and my wife was finishing school our first year of marriage. Within seven months of being married, we became pregnant and ran into so many issues surrounding finances. What were we going to do? How can we make more? Conversations that many couples have. While we had faith, we didn’t do the best with assessing the reality of where were. We just kept thinking “God’s got us!” (He did have us though!”) and left it at that. We didn’t take enough time to truly get ourselves on a path that would help us financially.

These conversations revealed some issues that my wife and I had to work through. I was from a background that knew how to “make-do” when funds were low and she came from a family that always made sure things were taken care of. Even when funds were low. We realized that the difference in our upbringing really affected what we found acceptable, as far as how we dealt with not having much money. I was working overtime and felt that I was trying my best and my wife was seeing that it still wasn’t enough. That led to more arguments because I was insecure and she was not satisfied with how we were living. These are arguments an average couple have and when you add kids, there is an added fear because you don’t want to feel like a failure as a parent.

This led us both to realize that we did not have enough contentment in Jesus. I was insecure because my identity and security was not completely invested in Christ’s finished work on the cross. And my wife was not content because the provision that she was expecting from Jesus, she placed on me. We will continue to fail each other’s expectations. It wasn’t until we redirected our focus on Jesus (and still have to do) that we were able to establish more peace in our household surrounding finances.

Time

Another issue that arose after having children was how to deal with time. We thought that we didn’t have much time with one child, but when we had our second, man we about lost it.

An area we struggle with in regards to time is schedules. For some, it is really easy to plan out your day, but for my family, it sometimes feels impossible. Some of the difficulties may be from disciplines that weren’t fully established while we were single and now we are having to grow through it together. It has not been easy for us.

Now that we live in Texas where grandma, grandpa and Aunt Tee-Tee live, we are able to have more date nights, but that too was hard for us. We did not do a great job making “us” time a priority before children, and it came back to bite us once the children arrived. We found ourselves feeling disconnected and unloved simply because we weren’t allowing ourselves to sit back and enjoy one another. Our relationship began to feel like we were co-workers in the Murphy business.

We have gotten better at this but it is still something we have to fight for. It is really easy to allow yourself to be too overwhelmed with raising your children and forget about the necessary time that is needed for your spouse. I wish I could say we were great at it, but it has been an area that God is helping us grow.

Same Team

This is probably the hardest thing that my wife and I have dealt with. Many couples may go through this so I don’t mind sharing.

While trying to raise children, it is far too easy to fall into the trap of comparison. You begin to look at how many diapers you’ve changed compared to the other person. How much work you do compared to the other person. This deceit is rooted in our own selfishness. We may think “why should I do that, you haven’t done anything lately.” You will find all these reasons that you are putting in more work as the parent. These are lies from the enemy. It isn’t about who does more!

Both of us are parenting the same children. We both should be devoted to raising our kids in the way of the Lord, but the enemy does not want us to focus on that. So many arguments could be avoided if we just took a deep breath and believed that our spouse is not the enemy.

We have to become teammates working towards the same goals in the family. This is something that my wife and I are finally seeing more and more day to day. My wife is a stay at home mom so it was so easy for her to feel like she was doing all of the work while I was gone. Then, if I didn’t jump right to it when I got home, she would be feeling some type of way. I had to work on making sure she knew that I was not coming home just to “check-out” and leave her. We have both grown in our perspectives and we are working towards the same goals now.

The Wrap-Up

Many reading this may feel that these are struggles that parents of any age could deal with. While that is true, I left out an important piece in each struggle that I shared.

I did not mention how crucial community is for young parents. I don’t think having kids young is a bad thing at all. I feel that when you do not have a community around you or people speaking into your life, that’s when it can be more burdensome. My wife and I come from an amazing community of people, but the last three years of our lives have been filled with many moments of transition and we probably missed out on a lot of the guidance that we really needed.

I’m thankful for where my wife and kids are at right now, but to those parents out there wrestling with the heavy hand of life, stay strong! Our kids are not burdens, they are blessings. Let’s let God mold us into the parents He’s called us to be, even when it’s painful.

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Branden, his wife, and two children

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Branden Murphy has served as a Campus Missionary. He loves Christian hip hop and uses it within his ministry to reach and converse with many different students. He plans to use his heart for music and ministry to write album reviews on Wadeoradio.com. Branden is also married with two children. You can follow Branden on Twitter: @Bmurph633.

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