Those of you who are parents – do you remember the moment when everything changed? I’m not talking about the day you found out you were pregnant, or the day you heard the heart beat for the first time, or the day you saw the first ultrasound or the day you painted the nursery. Those were awesome days, but at the end of those days you sat down to a quiet, responsibility-free dinner and had one-on-one conversation.
I’m talking about THE day. I remember mine so well.
It was somewhere around 5:00 in the morning, and I had already seen things that day that I had never seen before! I remember the doctor saying, “One more push,” and then he was handing me a pair of scissors to cut the cord . . . . and I remember the nurses looking concerned and saying something about his rough breathing and watching them rush that little bundle out of the room . . . and I had no idea what was happening or whether that salty discharge on my face was tears of joy or tears of fear. But later, when I found out that everything was okay, I knew that they were tears of relief.
And then came THE moment – standing there, outside the nursery window, looking in at that tiny 6 pound, 10 ounce baby – when I realized that my life would never be the same – for better, for worse. From that moment on, I would carry an extra burden in life – the burden of having a child – and as scared as I was, I understood at that moment that every decision that I made for the rest of my life would be different because of it.
Obviously, I didn’t know how to be a father that day. Learning how to be a father occurs through on the-job training. But I did know my one big responsibility – to get that baby safely to our house. As soon as the hospital dismissed us, I pulled the car around, strapped the infant carefully into his car seat, and triple-checked to make sure the seat was buckled securely into the car. Then I drove home in “super-caution mode.” (If you were one of the people who honked your horn from the line of cars behind me – shame on you!) All I could think at that moment was, “It is my responsibility to get this child home safely.” And that’s what I did.
My children are not babies anymore. In fact, two of the three are in MIDDLE SCHOOL, (blech!), and the third is knocking on the door. The playing field of parenting has changed so much that I feel just as clueless and nervous as I did in the delivery room 13 years ago.
But this much is true – I am just as committed to strapping my children in for the ride of their lives. My top goal is to deliver them safely to the next stop – and I’m not just talking about physical health here. I’m talking about helping them move to adulthood with hearts and souls intact.
I’m no expert on parenting, but I do understand that parenting is about more than conceiving a child, feeding a child, putting clothes on his back, and making sure he does his homework so he can get into college. It is more than helping him learn how to manage money and to stay out of jail. Parenting is about SHEPHERDING children – demonstrating for them how to live by faith so that one day, they can live a life marked by Godly wisdom.
Have you pondered that responsibility lately, of has it gotten lost in the fog of everyday parenting? If you have forgotten, why not make today a day of renewal, both in your commitment and practice. Even though the “rules” of parenting change as kids get older, one thing doesn’t change – THEY STILL NEED US!
So give this some prayerful thought – how can we guard our children, even as we are beginning to “let go”? Here’s a place to start – an article from FOCUS ON THE FAMILY that discusses helping kids survive our culture with faith intact.
Of course, I always appreciate hearing from the voices of experience. If you are a veteran parent of teenagers, do you have any advice for the rest of us? How did you guard your childrens’ heart during those tricky teen years?
Here are two resources to go further with this:
#1 – A recent sermon from Pinedale Christian Church: http://www.pinedale.org/sermons/sermon/2013-12-01/investing-for-the-future
#2 – For those with middle-school age kids, this is a great resource: http://ambassador-international.com/books/map-middle/