I have neither qualification nor desire to lay another “how-to” straw on the bending back of my fellow parents. Given that raising children is my daily life right now, writing about it from time to time is inevitable. For those of you likewise on this roller-coaster, I offer the following as encouragement, food-for-thought, and the beginning of discussion.
When God grants us stewardship of the next generation, our first and longest task is to remember why. Pursuing that, every other responsibility begins to take form.
As long as men and women have borne children, we have sought to control the outcome of the juggernaut that is “growing up.” Surely even Adam and Eve, raw to their new world of sin and death, wanted the best for their sons—somehow to escape the chains of evil fixed from the womb. Their firstborn murdered his brother, unleashing thousands of years of horror among the rest of their descendants. Children, always the repository of our hopes and dreams, have a fair shot at becoming instead withered cisterns of our fears, disillusionment, and re-enacted mistakes.
Just as often, however, the results come back positive. The rub comes as we wrestle with how to determine one product over another. We all know perfectly wonderful people who sprang from the cradles of awful parents. Likewise, we know those parents who “did everything right,” yet managed to go to their graves panged by the choices of one or more wayward children. Perhaps this sword pierces your own heart also.
Parents are pulled taut in every direction, preyed upon from all corners by those nourished on their fears. A thousand voices cry out, promising the cure for uncertainty—this diet, that discipline scheme, this medication (or avoidance thereof), that education method, my routine, will set you free—delivering your offspring safely to well-adjusted adulthood. Do this, and you’re off the hook. No sooner does one of these fads gain traction with the hopeful masses than a counterinsurgency roars to life, cleansing again the temples of parenthood.
Would that it were this easy.
Thus distraught, manipulated, and marketed to, what are parents to do? Finding ourselves as still-young men and women vested with this incredible responsibility, the pull to choose a parenting camp and do battle on their behalf is strong. Many (most?) of us hesitate, though, with mounting doubts. Fear closes in whenever silence allows, outmaneuvered only by fatigue. Like Elijah, we find ourselves despairing in the cleft of the mountain, doing our best to ignore the quotidian earthquake and tune out the whirlwind of “solutions.” But the still, small voice breaks in yet, calling us to take courage for He has not forsaken us. Continue reading →