Parenting is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

The funny thing about training for a 100 yard dash and a marathon is that there would be some areas of overlap because both require your body to be in running shape but they would look very different in other areas because the end goals are so different. In the sprint you only need an explosive burst that can take you very fast for a fairly short time, in a marathon you need to run at less than your maximum speed for a very long time. A sprint and a marathon are not the same thing and a sprinter would be ill prepared for a successful marathon if they trained the same as usual.

Here’s the thing though: Parenting is a marathon. It just is, it’s a race that requires stamina, distance and…time. You can’t squeeze a marthon into a half hour no matter how you try because the distance is too great, it requires patience.

The problem comes in when we try to treat parenting like a series of sprints. If I can just get my kid to behave right now in this store and not embarass me, if I can get them potty trained, doing well in school, eating better, etc, etc, etc.

When we focus on the small, short term goals and treat them like their own race instead of just a minor milestone on the course we waste energy and more importantly we may be damaging our longterm odds. We are expending unhealthy energy in a moment we don’t have too.

If you tried to run full speed everytime another runner passed you or you saw someone watching, you would exhaust yourself and most likely fail to complete the race, at best you’d be limping in with the last wave. But we do that in parenting all the time. We treat our kids with respect and love, being consistent and patient…until they make a scene in the supermarket then we lose our temper and react angrily or with bribery or by giving in, instead of patiently sticking to the pace we had set we get hurried, frazzled and race toward a short term solution…even if it hurts the long term goal.

If you can remember in that moment your kid is the only one who hasn’t done X yet or is the only teary mess at the party that this parenting thing is not defined by the short term successes and failures but the long term results you may find yourself happier and better able to shake off the occasional judgmental glance or comment.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

(I’ll admit sometimes it feels more like this obstacle race than a marathon. 😉 )

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