I am, by no means, an expert in the area of child rearing. But there are many things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me to get through those tough moments when I look at one of babies and have to ask, “where on earth did you come from?” I often find myself thinking back to my own childhood wondering if there were times when I worked my parents nerves so bad that they wished they could drop me off at the nearest shelter for the “Just Not Right” and walk away. I can recall a time some years back when my brother, sister and I were at my parents house. Somehow, probably because of my brother, the conversation went to each of us tattling on the other about all of this stuff we’d done as kids that my parents had absolutely no knowledge of. My parents laughed right along with us but I can remember my mother, clearly being shocked saying, “ya’ll were some bad kids.”
As a parent now, I often wonder what my kids might be keeping from me and then ask myself if I even really want to know because so much has changed since I was a child. Although, my parents didn’t have to contend with the likes of cell phones, text messaging, Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, I’m sure they probably said the same thing as they were doing their best to raise my siblings and me all while trying to shield us from the negative influences of society at that time. I know that on a daily basis my children can be fed negative information at lightening speed and that is definitely a challenge to keep up with.
My only birth child, a son, will be 23 years old this year and for the past ten years I have had the wonderful opportunity and privilege to be apart of the lives of six other children ages 21, 19, 15, 13 (twins) and 2. This crew has given my life partner and I a variety of challenges. None of them so bad that made us wish we could drop them off at the nearest home for the “Misinformed Child” but I think we may have come close a few times. Even with the crazy stunts they’ve pulled, I think our children are the best children a parent could ask for.
Recently, my life partner was giving a speech. He chose to begin his speech with a scripture that I think his parents, my parents and our grandparents before them were probably very familiar with. The scripture, Proverbs 22:6 says, train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. I think this particular scripture sums up our current efforts to give our children what they need to help them become kind, loving, respectful, well-rounded and successful human beings.
This is what we’ve learned thus far:
Family Time – family time is of the utmost importance. It is during these moments when my partner and I like to make sure we are connecting those lines of communication with our children. We make every effort to have open, honest conversations with them about whatever is on their hearts and in their heads. Our family vacations are the best. There is nothing like hearing one of the kids say, “hey, remember that time we went to…” or “remember when we did…?”
Choices – our children are going to make their own choices. Some are going to be great but others, eh…not so great. As parents, my love and I simply want to give the kids a good foundation so that they are able to make the best possible decisions even when we are not around. We will love them and guide them through whatever challenges (or bad decisions) they may face. We work very hard to let them know that we will always be there for them.
Dreams – our dreams and goals for our children may not be the dreams and goals they have for themselves. We simply have to accept them for who they are and whatever dreams they choose to follow. As long as the path they’ve chosen is not harmful to themselves or others, we will give them the support they need to make those dreams come true.
Love – most of all, give love and express love. We hug and love on the kids daily. We make it a priority to tell them how much we love and appreciate them. We pray often that God will allow our conversations not only with each other but especially with our children to always be full of grace (Col 4:6). We want our words to speak life into our children.
Blessed beyond measure…:)