Our children grew up in a good church. We raised them here, in this faith community and in the larger community of central Texas. Now this is a good place to rear children. But--I think that rearing children is difficult – very difficult. Rewarding? Yes! A blessing? Yes! But--difficult.
The one thing that both Charlotte and I wanted more than anything else was for our children to love the Lord--to value and treasure him above all else. Yet, I felt like I had so much to learn. Over the years, I think I learned some important lessons.
I learned so much from watching and talking with other people. When one of our children was in high school, I recall spending part of an afternoon with a couple who had long since reared their children. They seemed to be very wise people, so I peppered them with question after question regarding raising teenage girls.
I learned that my children will often take their cues from me. If Daddy is okay, then things in general may seem to be ok for them. But if Daddy is upset, angry, and argumentative, that has a way of disrupting everything.
I learned that I could not protect my children from the world. Nor, could I control their decisions and their lives. (This was especially true as they grew older). Yet I wanted to learn how to guide them, encourage them, and correct them without breaking their spirit.
I tried to remember that we were preparing them to live apart from us. That meant learning responsibility, respect, and dealing with the consequences of their own behavior. This gets real practical like teaching them that they will pay for their own speeding tickets or fines. After all, that is what would happen in the "real world."
Now my children are almost gone. (One is married and the other is in college). One day our children were born. Then suddenly, it was over. (At least the years at home are over).
Do you know how quickly that happened?
Do you know how fast those years flew by?
I can’t go back and redo those years or start over. Like you, my wife and I had one shot at rearing our children. Yes there were days that seemed like years. Now, the years pass quickly and often seem like a few days.
The challenge is not to be a perfect parent. It's not to try to do everything just right. Rather, the challenge is to be intentional. It is to have a vision for your children that is centered around God.
Yet, the great temptation is to stand by and passively watch the world mold our children. Sometimes dads, in particular, will be very active in the lives of their young children. But when those young children become adolescents, many men are silent and passive, like spectators in a high school game. This kind of passivity puts parents in the role of being a bystanders--leaving our children alone to fend for themselves.
I would enjoy hearing what you have learned by being a parent.