Parenting is a big responsibility and comes with big requirements. From the moment that child first cries until the day you depart with your last breath, you are responsible for the child God blessed your home with. It is likely that only as a parent can your heart be blessed and broken in the same day by one person and sometimes within the same sentence. Parenting is not for the faint at heart or the easily defeated. Parenting requires skills.
Among those skills is the ability to change with and for the child you are parenting. The status you carry today will change by tomorrow and so will her/his demands of you. The older they get, the more this should become apparent. They are transitioning from one stage of life to the next and you as parent must transition your style and schemes in the same way and timing that they do. Otherwise, you seem and sound like the teacher in Charlie Brown to a kid who is doing exactly what he was born to do – grow up.
That is where I am right now. My three little darlings have become three little daring teenagers just trying to make their way in the world. This is not a fad or a stage. It is life. Their life.
And I want to be a part of their life for the rest of my life. So, I must transition with them or I will be left behind thinking and wishing and regretting and wasted.
We must transition from sheltering them from everything to shielding them from some things. We can not protect them from all harm. We can only help them avoid the trouble that is ahead and perhaps be able to predict it. Help them avoid the biggest threats while walking with them as they face smaller threats or challenges to the worldview we have offered them. A small scrape learned at home will be a benefit when big scrapes come along later in life.
We must transition from choosing everything for them to coaching them to good choices. Everyday a child becomes more and more independent. Everyday a parent either helps them live independently or puts up a road block to their growth. Coaching is a good middle ground as they grow up and feel the need to have their own way, but still need advice and counsel. If they learn to take coaching in the small things at home, they will seek coaching in life when big things pop up.
We must transition from loving our “little person” to liking the real person they are striving to become. Always love, love, love your children. Don’t forget to like them, too; whomever they are growing into. Parental acceptance is a primary need for every child. Don’t be blinded by old memories of your children. Look longingly at today’s real life photos. New memories are being made. Don’t miss them.
We must transition from teaching them about bad things/choices to talking with them about right things/choices. Sure there is plenty of things to warn our kids about. Warn them about sex, drugs and rock n roll, but also talk to them about the good, fun and beautiful things in life. Point them toward things that truly satisfy and away from things that seek to rob, kill and destroy. They will quickly recognize the difference.
We must transition from being blessed by their successes to being a blessing in their defeat/agony/failures. Children are valuable to us. But let’s not value them for what they do for us or for how well they succeed in life, sports and other things. Be there to bless them when they don’t “hit it out of the park.” That might be your most important parental activity. God made us for them; not the other way around.
We must transition from living our dreams through them to believing in them to dream their own dream and chase it successfully. Since they weren’t made to finish the dreams we couldn’t, let them have their own life. They don’t have to be a lawyer, a teacher or a sports figure. They don’t have to be Republican or Methodist or even Texan. Open the door and show them the wide open spaces of life and then free them to roam. They are likely to go anyway, so just go ahead and make it your idea.
Transition is no time to retreat or recoil with fear or hopelessness. Every transition requires our best effort as a parent and our greatest attention to the details of relationship with our kids. Parents lead the way in helping their kids form and foster solid relationships in life. Teaching them to do so during the transitions of life at home is where they first learn.
Parenting is about feeding, clothing, helping, teaching, caring, hugging, disciplining and about 1,000 other daily needs our kids have. But helping them feel safety in the transitions of life may be the most important thing we do for and with them. For if children can’t adjust to transitions at home, they will be lost in the world that constantly is in transition.
Successful parental transitioning requires us to move from one stage of or approach to parenting to the next. Choosing to transition is likely one of the few areas of parenting that a parent has complete control over. A parent cannot make every decision or control every occurrence in their child’s life, but a parent does have complete control over her/his own attitudes, approaches and actions related to interacting with their children. In the end, our success as a parent may very well be measured by how well we transitioned along the way as our kids grew into the people they were born to become.
Get ready. A transition is just around the corner. You don’t want to be left behind. This part of parenting is a lot of fun. Get ready to move.
Parents, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. (Ephesians 6:4 – The Message)