3 Parenting questions for Kristen Ivy

Kara Powell Image Kara Powell | Oct 17, 2014

This post is part of a series celebrating the release of the new Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family. We’re interviewing parents who think and write about faith, family, and ministry.

This week we hear from author, mom, and ministry leader Kristen Ivy. Kristen serves as the Executive Director of Messaging at Orange, blogs at theparentcue.org, and and is the co-author of Playing for Keeps. With her husband Matt, she parents two preschoolers in the Atlanta area.

Kristen, how do you make sure you’re the parent you want to be in the midst of your demanding job?

I am never the parent I want to be.

But then again, I fall short of my own standard pretty regularly, so maybe it’s no surprise that the same is true of my parenting. Being a working mother isn’t easy. The only way to approach it is to walk with enough humility to admit my faults, to accept forgiveness not only from God, but also from my husband and children, and to be willing to forgive myself.

For the record, every day I don’t . . .

… shower, dress well, and show up to work on-time, put together,

and remember to send back the library books.

… lead staff, lead meetings, generate new ideas, innovate systems,

and remember to sign the kids up for the next round of swim lessons.

… play with my kids as much as they would like,

read to my kids as much as their teachers would like,

finish all the laundry, clean the kitchen, write a few blogs,

or get as much sleep as I would like.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post for Orange Parents that answered some of how I try to prioritize in the midst of sometimes un-doable expectations:

People over tasks. Whether it’s my kids or my co-workers, the people in my world matter more than the tasks at hand. When the day is over, if the people I’m closest to feel supported and loved, the day is a success—even if there’s still a pile of laundry at the foot of the bed and I didn’t answer every email.

Reality over Perception. The Room Mom might judge me for bringing store-bought cupcakes to the party instead of homemade ones. My co-workers may be frustrated when I change the time of a meeting because I forgot that I was the “mystery-reader” that day, or I have to run to the pediatrician again. Every day, I have a choice: I can worry about the perceptions others have about my “failures” as a mom or as an executive, or I can focus on what I need to do in the moment. Most of the time it’s just a whole lot better to figure out how to work within my capacity, than to spend time worried about perceptions.

Authenticity over Perfection. I don’t plan to raise perfect kids; but I do want to raise kids who know how to work hard and deal with failure well. I don’t plan to lead teams who respect me because I’m the perfect leader; but I do hope we can respect each other for our gifts and abilities in spite of our weaknesses and struggles. For those reasons, I choose to work and parent with authenticity even when it means I have to own up to not meeting my own or someone else’s expectations.

As part of the Orange team, I know you’re committed to families and churches partnering together in the spiritual formation of kids. As a parent, how have you tried to support your own church’s children’s ministry?

I think two things are true about how Orange has influenced my personal relationship with the local church where I serve.

1. As a parent, I am more aware of my own role in the spiritual development of my children. I also see that my role is connected to what leaders at our church are doing on Sunday mornings. We try to reinforce at home what we know they are doing at church in things like:

  • We have window markers that we use to write the monthly memory verse on our sliding glass door.
  • We talk about the story they learned on Sunday when it makes sense.
  • In our car, we sometimes play a CD of music they sing at church.
  • We pray together at bedtime.
  • When we talk about faith and character issues, we use the same language the church uses so there is consistency.

2. As a volunteer for student ministry at my church, I’m more aware of my responsibility to partner with the parents of my small group. Right now I’m currently working with Elle Campbell to write a short E-Book with some practical ways we have tried to partner with parents as small group leaders in student ministry. A few of those are:

  • Emailing the parent any time a new student is added to my group to introduce myself and to ask the parent to share a few things with me about their kid.
  • Communicating to parents about what’s happening at the church, in the ministry, and in our small group so they have the information they need.
  • Making an effort to personally meet the parents when we have special events or whenever I go to their games/ plays /etc…
  • Sharing positive stories about parents with my group.
  • Sharing positive things about my students with their parents.
  • Giving parents credit for the positive characteristics that I see in their children.

What has parenting taught you about yourself that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise?

I can type with one hand.

I can make a pretty good “Elsa” out of Wikki sticks.

I still remember a lot of songs that my mother used to sing to me.

I am not at all good at sitting back and watching someone mess up (I really, really want to intervene).

I don’t serve others well when I haven’t taken care of myself well.

I really, really, really need other people to help me.

For the rest of my life I will love two people with a kind of love I never imagined possible.

For more ideas from real families like yours, get the new Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family.

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Kara Powell Image
Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.

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