Now that I’m on the downhill side of parenting (my kids range from a senior in high school to early twenties) I’ve been wondering what kind of dad I was. Maybe some day I’ll have the courage to ask my kids what they think. Maybe that should be today.
When I’m honest with myself I wish I had done so much more.
I wish I had prayed more, cared more, spent more time, listened better, taught them more theology, and taken them to more movies or zoos or football games. I wish I had encouraged them more, been stricter, been more lenient, handled my anger better and been more present at home at their school or in their rooms.
The list could go on and on.
The good news for me (and maybe for you) is this; I’m still a dad and have time to learn and grow. Also, God is faithful. He’s good to do his work in us and in our kids many times in spite of us.
As the sun is setting on time with my kids here are a few things I’ve things I’ve been thinking. (sorry about all the “p’s”)
Parenting isn’t about finishing with a perfect product it’s about a process filled with pain and joy, victory and failure. Much of my parenting experience has been about what God wants to do in me as much as about forming the hearts and minds of my children. At the end of the day it kind of seems like they’ve taught me as much or more than I’ve taught them.
Parenting is a journey and perhaps God is more concerned about our faithfulness in the process than the perfection of our kids.
It’s so important. My daughter is a senior in high school. One of the highlights of my week is taking her to school (that’s why we haven’t given her a car). She’s kind of quiet in the morning and many times there are as little as 10 words spoken as we drive through bustling Flower Mound. But we’re together. I’m present with her. One day a week we stop at Starbucks on the way to grab some coffee. She talks, I listen. Presence.
My two oldest sons are in college in Georgia. Presence with them is very different. It usually involves long conversations on the phone talking about the deep important matters of life, Notre Dame football. I know, not that important, but we’re present together.
More than ever before I’m committed to going before the throne of God on behalf of my kids. As my time with them becomes less, the greatest impact I can have on their lives is to cry out to God on their behalf. This isn’t meant to be over simplified or over spiritualized, it’s just true. More than anything else I want my sons to grow to be men who love Jesus and my daughter to be passionate for Him. Not much else matters.
There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m a less then perfect parent. In fact, sometimes I just simply wasn’t that good. But there’s hope for me and each of us who are navigating through the chaotic but beautiful journey of parenting.
God is faithful!