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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Challenge of Parenting!

Want An Extreme Challenge?  
Try Parenting!

Or if that’s not enough of a challenge for you, try STEP-parenting!  There are all those guides out there to parenting, each with a specific perspective and favorite techniques.  And some of them have some really good ideas!  I especially like the materials put out by Jim Faye and by Stephen Glenn…but there are plenty of other good ones, too.  However, I've always thought it would be the most helpful if you could get your kids to read the books, too, so they would know how they are supposed to respond when you implement the strategies!!  

In the movie, Saving Mr. Banks, we are presented with individuals who turned out in different ways after tough childhoods; amazingly different responses, in fact.  And if you look up the life story of the woman depicted, you discover some parenting issues that arose out of an adoption she did. Truth is, raising kids is just pretty messy, isn’t it?  While most parents don’t want to admit it, the truth is, none of us really know exactly what we are doing, and spend plenty of time wondering if we made the right choices.  We have this child (or children) we love more than anything in the world, but the child did NOT come with a set of specific instructions.  And since we know that God created each of us to be unique beings, even if there were such guidebooks, they would always have to be tweaked and adapted to the unique child who is yours (which of course is why the Bible has such a wide variety of individuals and examples for us to consider).  We do the best we know, and we pray a lot, maybe even attend some seminars and read some books, but there are not easy answers in a one size fits all format.  I know great parents whose kids have made very poor choices, and lousy parents who ended up with kids who are some of the greatest people I know.  And I know a LOT of adoptive parents and step parents who deal with some very difficult issues. 

I was visiting with some dear, dear friends in recent days who have just lost a young adult son in an automobile accident.  (Say a prayer for them….God knows their names.)  Life is so unpredictable, isn’t it?  We talked about choices our children make, and we talked about lessons we try to instill, then afterwards, visited with another family who have their own issues with adult children and concerns for grandchildren.  I also know lots of people who try to step parent effectively, and wrestle with exes who are at odds with them or have different values and priorities, and seek to undermine everything they do. 

All of these things led me to the few simple points I’d like to make in today’s blog.  

First, if you are divorced and having issues with your children, it isn't legitimate to assume that all the problems are due to the divorce, the step-parent or interference of the ex.  Even “perfect” families can have great difficulties in child rearing.  

Second, again, primarily for those are divorced, it is already difficult enough as it is, don’t complicate it more by dragging children into some kind of war with your ex.  Put the kids first, and do you best to leave you personal issues aside.  

Third, God bless you if you are seeking to be a godly parent raising your children in the best traditions and teachings of the Christian faith.  God will honor your choices, even if your children don’t always do so.  

Fourth, realize life is precious, life is short and life is unpredictable.  We only have our children for a season, and it is important that we appreciate and love them with the opportunities we have, for we do not know when those opportunities will cease.  

Last, and most important of all, as I say so often in my books, pray for your children, knowing that God knows them better than you, loves them more than you, and He doesn't need any kind of guidebook to tell HIM what is best for your children.  Trust Him with these precious gifts he has given that we call sons, daughters, step-sons, step-daughters and adopted children.  Never underestimate what He can and will do in their hearts and lives.  

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