For all the questions, opinions, and debates about parenting, there is one thing on which everyone agrees: parenting is hard. Really hard.

“It’s easy to get bogged down in the immediate moment, and it’s hard to lift our eyes to the long term,” Jen Wilkin observes in a new interview with Lauren Hansen. “As a parent of young children, you can’t just be living to get to 5 p.m. You must begin with the end in mind.” She goes on to explain: “Children’s moral development begins around 18 months and is basically set by age 11. So if you wait until your child is 6 or 7 to get serious about parenting, you’ve given over about half the time you have to set their moral framework.”

“We often see them as a responsibility, or an interruption, or a financial obligation,” Wilkin explains. “But sometimes we need to be reminded that they’re our neighbors—in fact, the nearest neighbors our Lord has called us to love and serve.”

Christian parenting “standards” have changed a bit since Wilkin, who has two boys and two girls, first became a mom. “Every generation has its measures of what a good parent looks like,” she observes. She also suggests that parents ask themselves certain penetrating, perhaps uncomfortable, questions. A couple of examples:

  • Is having our kids in a zillion different activities pulling our family apart or bringing us together?
  • Are we devoting more energy to what our children are physically eating or to what they’re taking in through their eyes and ears?

Wilkin also wants to encourage weary parents who are plodding along faithfully, doing their best. “Every day is a full of choices, and we’re not usually choosing between a bad thing and a good thing. We’re choosing between a good thing and a better thing.”

Watch the full 10-minute video to see Wilkin discuss epidurals, mommy wars, families as home groups, gender expectations, and more. Then register to see her lead a workshop titled “Your Quiet Time Should Change You” at The Gospel Coalition 2015 National Conference, April 13 to 15, in Orlando.