A few months ago my wife and I received some exciting news. Our oldest daughter is pregnant with her first child who will be our first grandchild. Several weeks ago we had the opportunity to go with her to an ultra sound and discover that her baby is a girl. We watched in amazement as the baby flipped and turned in a playful manner while the ultra sound tech tried to get pictures for us.
Michele and I have three children, two daughters and a son. Each of them has put their unique fingerprints on our family. We waited 3 years before having our first child. Mikah was such a good baby. I took her to work with me many days at the church. As she grew into a toddler I fixed up a little room next to my office so she could have her own office. She would answer her toy phone and use the typewriter and sometimes create artwork for our offices. Usually around 2 or 3pm she would drag her blanket into my office spread it on the carpet and lay down for her afternoon nap. She would sleep soundly for about 2 hours and then it was usually time to go home.
We only lived about 5 blocks from the church so often we would walk to work and then walk home at the end of the day. The church was like her second home. I did not think I could love another child as much as I loved our first. Five years later God gave us Amanda and I discovered there was plenty of love for this new baby in our home. Zak was on his way just 18 months later. We had a full house at that point our little 1200 sq. ft. home was about to pop!
What I have learned about parenting:
1. It’s Ok to admit you were wrong. I remember a time when Mikah was only about 4 years old. She got into some things in the kitchen and made a mess. When I discovered it I got onto her very harshly. Later I really felt guilty and remorseful for how I had handled the situation. I went into her room where she was playing on her bed. I told her I was sorry and that I was wrong in how I had disciplined her. I ask her to forgive me and then asked her to pray with me. She said to me: “It’s Ok Daddy, Jesus will help you be a good daddy”. I discovered the importance early on of admitting I was wrong and asking forgiveness. If we want our children to do this we must model it for them.
2. Each child needs to be parented differently. The universal cry of childhood is: “That’s unfair you let him/her do that but you never let me!” An early discovery for me was how differently my two daughters would respond to the daily challenges. Mikah was very easy going and would tolerate a great deal, she would often ask for help. Amanda on the other hand was very vocal and saw asking for help as human weakness and wanted no part of it. Lol. Zak was always a deep thinker, he wanted to know “Why” (still does) and would press the point to the bitter end. He was very much a self-starter and learned early to use tools that would help him learn and grow. We had to learn that each of these unique individuals needed to be parented differently.
3. Parenting is unpopular! That’s right, when you parent for the good of the family you will sometimes be dis-liked by the very ones you are trying to help. It is hard to be held at a distance by those you love. To be rejected, to be called out of step with contemporary thought. Some parents find it too much to bare, so they cave into the wishes, desires, plans of their children. Many regret it later. You are not your child’s best friend you are their parent. That means you make decisions that are sometimes unpopular. Do it now and they will thank you later or not but at least you will know you did what was right.
4. Parenting is LIFETIME Calling! Our children are all grown up now. They are adults. We are very proud of them. Our role as caretaker in their lives has almost completely extinguished. We still help a little with the younger two who are in college but for the most part they are on their own. Our role as parents has changed but we still have an important role to play in their lives and in the lives of their children until God calls us home. I am really enjoying this part of life with the kids. I like being able to speak with them as adults and I really enjoy when they ask my opinion about decisions that lay before them. They are so much fun to be around and they get along with each other very well. They still look to us for wisdom, advice and counsel. We are parents for life and I would not want it any other way.