I sat across from my husband with tears in my eyes as I confessed my horrible failure. I needed my son to spend more time in childcare, and it felt like a personal deficiency. I only have one kid, after all, so why couldn’t I keep up? Why couldn’t I be like those other, better mothers, who dutifully tend to their many children all day long, all on their own? I needed help—more help than I was getting—and I was ashamed to finally say it out loud.

Up until this summer, my husband and I had both been full-time students, splitting our days with our young son. When my husband took a full-time job as a pastor, we settled into more traditional roles. For the first time since our son was born, my husband worked, I stayed at home, and my struggle began.

For months, I was ashamed to admit that I couldn’t do it all; I couldn’t finish my dissertation, write, manage our home, tend to my faith, and make every second of my son’s days “count.” I felt trapped, but what were my options? Our son was already going to daycare twice a week, and I kept remembering the many a church leader I’d heard preach the singular importance of parents: No one can parent your child like you. No one can shepherd your child’s faith like you. You are THE most important person in your child’s life.

That was my struggle: needing help, and feeling like a failure for needing it. However, after discussing the topic with my husband and with God, I reconsidered whether these Christian parenting axioms were entirely true.

On the one hand, the church’s teachings on parenting rightfully tell us that parents have a unique and powerful responsibility in their children’s lives, ...

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