Friends having babies ... and friends having grandbabies ... causes me to ponder.
Parenting has got to be the hardest yet most rewarding of all jobs. And if that wasn't intimidating enough, it is a job with eternal value. So why do we accept the challenge? Perhaps because children are a gift, a treasure to love and nurture. We get to share life with them.
Looking back, I could be so discouraged by focusing on mistakes I made. Many things I got right but if I could just have a few "do overs." The good news is that grace, given by both God and my daughter, has covered all of my mistakes. And I think I learned a few things along the way. So, as I reflect, I'm going to record a few lessons learned - maybe it can be credited as wisdom - maybe it can be used as encouragement for future generations.
1. First, enjoy your children. Yes, it is true - in what seems like a blink of the eye, they become adults. Sometimes enjoying them requires an attitude adjustment (from you!). Sometimes that requires focusing on what is praiseworthy. Enjoy each phase of their lives. Those phases will soon be gone only to be replaced by a new one!
2. Share the gospel, but more importantly, live the gospel.
3. Point out where you see evidence of God's presence and His goodness, faithfulness, kindness, provision, trustworthiness, etc. The reality of who He is and the relationship you have with Him cannot be kept in the dark ... and isn't it our hope that children will soon recognize our "invisible" God? (And we want them to remember that just because you cannot see God doesn't mean that He is not present at those teenage parties!)
4. Love your child's father/mother well.
5. Look carefully at any traits in your children that may annoy you or may not be acceptable behavior. Sometimes those same traits will be invaluable in their adult life/calling/ministry/job. Children need to learn how to harness these"obnoxious" traits so they can be used for good. Example: Stubbornness exhibited by a child can develop into the perseverance an adult needs to get the job done with excellence!
6. Establish boundaries that create a safe home where everyone can be themselves and loved unconditionally. Everyone needs to feel safe and secure from the harshness outside the front door. Ex: No one is allowed to call another family member a name that hurts. There is way too much of that going on in the world. Such ugliness need not reside in your home.
7. When a child says, "If you love me, you'll give me what I want," respond, "Because I love you, I'll give you what is best for you."
8. While a parent cringes at the word "no", a child needs to learn that there are appropriate and necessary times to use that word. Sometimes a child needs permission to say no. And honestly, perhaps our children need experience in saying no. Perhaps they need to experience the power and respect that can come with a "no". Use your wisdom and discernment on this one!
9. Establish relationships with parents of your children's friends. Then, when they say "Nicole gets to do ...", you can respond, "Let me call her mom". Trust me, I used that line more than once. It's amazing how quickly children can recant.
10. Listen and respect healthy differences of opinion. Our kids are not designed to be carbon copies of us. They were created in God's image for His good pleasure and for His good plans. Respectfully listening to children teaches them to listen to us.
11. Expect loving behavior and express your disappointment should you witness or experience anything less - sometimes with discipline, often with a hug, always with love.
12. Learn to say: "My job is to keep you safe."
"Maybe you are ready for that, but I am not. Give me time."
"You are right."
"I'm sorry." - and mean it!
13. Random lesson: Write a strict contract when teenagers begin to drive. Set boundaries up front with the consequences outlined.
What did I miss?