I needed this reminder from God today. Maybe you do too.
Sometimes do you wonder if you knew exactly what you were getting yourself into that you would have still chosen to be a parent?
Parenting is not for the faint at heart. It is one of the most rewarding jobs on this earth while at the same time one that can be the most discouraging.
-The hours are long (24 hours a day FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE).
-The pay won’t leave you with a hefty nest egg for retirement.
-It is often a job that receives little to no recognition.
-Comparison is inevitable.
-To top it all off there is no manual on how to do this job right….or is there?
The bible is full of the knowledge we need as parents to raise our children right (Proverbs 22:6, Deuteronomy 4:9, Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Deuteronomy 11:19, Proverbs 1:8-9, Colossians 3:21), love them the way God commands us to (Psalm 103:13, Titus 2:4, 1Peter 5:3, Luke 15:20, Proverbs 13:24 ), and to discipline them accordingly (Ephesians 6:4, Proverbs 19:18, Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 23:13-14, Proverbs 29:15-17).
What happens when we follow this manual to the best of our ability but still feel we somehow got it wrong?
I want to encourage all who have struggled with this or are struggling with this, you are not alone.
You may be in the sleepless nights of the infant stage, walking around feeling like a zombie. You realize it is nearly noon and you’re not exactly sure how your baby got clean, fed and down for a nap because you don’t remember doing any of that.
You might be in the terrible toddler phase (it’s no longer terrible twos; it never was just age 2). You are tired of the constant ‘no’s’, the time out’s, the toy’s taken away, the temper tantrums, and getting nothing done.
Maybe you have reached those teen years when they want so desperately their independence while you want so desperately to keep them little. You no longer worry about their favorite teddy bear losing his stuffing. You are now worried about your little girl’s heart being broken for the first time, or your baby boy hanging with the wrong crowd.
Maybe you are an empty nester. You thought this day would somehow bring some freedom from the worry. You now realize you worry just as much, if not more so, for your adult children than you did when they were younger.
Many years ago when my son was very young and before our daughter graced us with her love, I heard a woman at a conference talking about parenting. She said two things I will never forget.
First, she said that her children were her greatest joy and her greatest heartbreak.
Second, she said she found herself praying more for her children as young adults than she ever had at any other time in their life.
I was taken aback by her statements. Her explanation gave me clarity but not comprehension. To completely comprehend her statement I would need to experience it firsthand.
Our children are one of our greatest blessings. They bring so much love and joy to us. Before we held our own in our arms we could only vaguely understand the deep love of a parent. With such great love also come the possibilities of great disappointments. Let’s face it; our children are just as human as we are. They have just as much free will as we do.
All of our children’s firsts, their hugs and kisses, their coos and cries, the way they snuggle with you and rest their head on your chest or when they say ‘I love you’, are joys that are indescribable.
Their poor choices, their rebellious attitude, their disobedience, their ungratefulness, or their disrespectful words are disappointments that leave a parent’s heart shattered.
Whether you have an unruly toddler, a rebellious teen ager, or a prodigal child, know that you are not alone in your parenting. God is with you. He sees your children and He loves your children even more than you could ever imagine loving them.
As a mother of an adult child I now understand that woman’s second comment.
While our children are young and still in our home, we have a false sense of control over their lives. When our children leave the security of our home we realize that whatever little control we thought we had is no longer there.
They will make good decisions and bad decisions. Some we will know about and others we may not. Pray for them.
They might display a character that resembles the morals you raised them with, or they may choose to embrace the morals of the world. Pray for them.
They might find themselves leaning more on God because they no longer have the security of your home, or they may turn away from God because of the deception of freedom that this new independence portrays. Pray for them.
Whatever phase of parenting you are in take your concerns to God. Pray for them.
Don’t get too wrapped up in the choices your children make. Their choices are not the full representation of your parenting. Remember, they too have free will.
If our choices were a full representation of God’s parenting, then one could argue that God is the worst parent there has ever been. We are a people who are selfish, self-centered and rebellious. We make choices that go against what God has taught us every day.
We know this is not true of God, nor is it true of you. Be cautious of taking full credit of your children’s good choices and beating yourself up for their bad choices.
Instead, in the good praise God for His hand in their life and their obedience to His voice. In the bad, pray for His hand in their life and their ears to turn to His voice.
I have never seen parenting as a job but rather a great honor, privilege and blessing. It has had its ups and downs like everything else in life. There are moments where I feel like I parented my children well, and other moments where I feel I should have done things much differently. I know I am not a perfect parent, there is no such thing.
I do have confidence that I did do the best job I could to make sure my children know God, His great love for them, and His Word.
Now, I pray that all the seeds sown in their hearts have landed on fertile soil. I pray that their hearts will be soft to God’s voice. I pray they will be surrounded by people who will speak Truth into their lives. I pray they will listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. I pray that they would desire intimate fellowship with God. I pray they would seek God and turn away from the world. And, yes, I pray the hard prayer of allowing my children to be humbled so they will look up to Him.
Yes, I do find myself praying more for my children now then I have ever done before. My children are one of my greatest blessings. Yes, some of my deepest heartaches have also come from my children.
Parenting is a great responsibility. One we can only do well when on our knees.
Father, thank you so much for being the perfect parent for me to model my parenting after. I know that I will never be perfect in my parenting. Thank you for filling in the gaps. Lord I hold my children with open hands. I pray that the guidance I have provided will lead them straight to You.