My kids are gone for two weeks.
I dropped them off at their Nana’s (after spending a few days with MeeMaw and PawPaw) for their annual extended summer visit to the midwest. I have a student ministry camp coming up next week that both my wife and I attend, so this little vacation serves my kids well. It also makes our house extraordinarily quiet and disrupts our “normal” rhythm.
Don’t get me wrong — the time it affords me to take my wife to dinner or a movie without having to pay a babysitter is nice. But our kids are a huge part of not only our lives, but our legacies. They are our most important mission. In their absence, I’m thinking about parenting and I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion:
Parenting ain’t for sissies.
Hey moms and dads…do you realize how important your job is? I’m talking life-altering, character-shaping, and eternity-determining important. While the decisions your kid makes will one day be truly theirs, they often (not always) come to those conclusions because of how you raised them.
Work at it. Work hard. Don’t give up. Don’t take a day off. It’s too important. You are raising kings and queens. (I recommend you just listen to the audio on that link…the video and audio are not synced properly, but the content is solid and I hope encourages you greatly.)
I see you single parents…and frankly, I don’t know how you do it. When my kids were little, it was a chore just going to the grocery store…and we had two adults! I don’t have to warn you against taking a day off — you haven’t had an afternoon off since it seems like the Reagan administration.
But be encouraged! Your head may hit the pillow every night completely and utterly exhausted. But your kid’s head hits the pillow every night knowing their loved because of your great sacrifice. Keep at it!
And for you adoptive parents, step-parents and family members raising kids that you never thought you’d help raise…huge props to you. There’s a special biological bond forged between two parents with their children. For those who step in when someone else steps out the bond may not be the same immediately, but the devotion and intentionality it takes to build that bond over time is beyond admirable.
And your influence is no less important. So keep being awesome and shaping lives. You are not junior varsity parents when it comes to what you are doing. You are not a substitute teacher. You are shaping hearts. You are a rockstar in the same way every other parent is. So rock on.
I am a Christian, and I know some parents reading this are not. But when I think about parenting and influence and the responsibility it is to devote a lifetime to someone else’s life, I think two things:
1. Parenting ain’t for sissies.
2. God’s not leaving us hanging on this one. He gives us great wisdom (see Deuteronomy 6, the whole book of Proverbs, and the godly example of a variety of imperfect but inspirational parents in the Bible–Jochebed and Jesse, Noah and Naomi, Jacob and Joseph) as well as a great example–adopting us as His own sons and daughters and telling us the truth about ourselves while loving us unconditionally.
When it all comes down to it, that is parenting, isn’t it?
Tell your kids the truth about themselves (that won’t always mean paying them a compliment or protecting their ego, either) and loving them unconditionally.
Parenting is a lot of things. It’s beautiful. It’s rewarding. It’s scary. It’s fun. It’s expensive! It’s special and sloppy and lasting and important. But there’s one thing it is most definitely not.
Parenting ain’t for sissies.
(My two incredible kids, with photo Credit to the fantastic Curtis Matthews…check out his work!)