Chris and I (like all parents, I'm sure) spend a lot of time trying to figure out if we're doing the best job parenting our children.
We think about how the choices we make as parents impact their lives intentionally and unintentionally. We think about how our expectations, rules, consequences and rewards affect who they are going to become as human beings. We look at how and when we discipline. We think about what we expose them to and what we protect them from. We're intentional about who we put in their lives as mentors and influencers. And we look at the values that we're teaching them.
We think about our words and actions and how they impact these kids. We worry we're not teaching them enough from the Bible, that we're not always modeling "love your neighbor" well enough, and that we are not around our extended family as much as we'd like. We know it takes a "village" and frankly our "village" is pretty small here.
We think about all the activities they're involved in. Are they too busy? And man, do we feel bad when we have to say no to some of the things they want to do...whether it's due to money, or simply not enough hours in the day. How will these choices impact their future? Will we always regret one of these choices?
We worry we're doing too much for them. Will they learn enough life skills to be successful adults? Because they're just too busy for more chores. It usually comes down to sleeping, or learning to do the dishes or fold the laundry better. And, honestly, they really need sleep! We really need them to sleep! We think about all the mistakes we've made along the way. And we pray we'll do better! We've only got five years left with all four at home. That's just not enough time!!
We worry, because it's well known that pastor's kids often rebel and many leave the church because they've seen and heard too much. The church consumed their childhood and they lost precious family time together. They sometimes want to run far away. We don't want ours to run. So what can we do better? What should we change?
It's easy to dwell on the what ifs. Will one little decision we make impact their entire future? Will we say no to the one sport we should have said yes to? The one they would have loved and been most successful at? Will the schools we send them to prepare them to be successful in college, and if not, will their entire futures be altered? Will we teach them to love the church or will they run from it? Will they become kind, selfless human beings who look for ways to help others, or will they only think of themselves? Yikes! It's such a big thing when you become responsible for raising other human beings!
Basically, we worry a lot that we're screwing them up and hope prayer and good intentions will go a long way! In the end, we know God's got them. And he loves them even more than we do.
But today, I'm going to think about what I know we're doing right. We always pray with them on the way to school, at meals and before bedtime. Always. It doesn't matter if we're at home, in a restaurant, in a tent, or at a hotel, we pray together. We read the Bible together several times a week. Some weeks are better than others. We are continually talking about our faith and how to live out what Jesus tells us to. We love them fiercely and are adamant that as a family we will love and respect each other. They may fight like all siblings do, but underneath they are also best friends. And it's awesome to watch those friendships grow.
We take the kids on big camping road trips. We've seen 26 states and 9 national parks in the last 22 months. We sleep in a big tent, picnic at roadside rest stops, and teach them you can do a lot with a little amount of money. We're showing them there's so much out there outside of their own little world. We spend a lot of time together. We go to church together. We go to cross country and swim team together. We go to school together. They share rooms. And share a small home. We are together a lot! But we know that's good even when there are times when we'd love a little space. We are a family and our little family motto is "As Family We Go!"
So today, I'm dwelling on what's good. An hour ago two of them were fighting. I didn't solve their disagreement. I told them to go back to their room and find a way to work it out. And you know what, they did. They came out a few minutes later and are now outside on the driveway with milk, dish soap, and food coloring. They're doing some kind of experiment together while one practices her new trumpet. Outside. Together! And they don't need me at all right now! They're good kids who are healthy, do well in school, sports, and are generally kind to others. So I'm thinking that even when we screw up as parents, God's got this and I've just got to trust him more! So for the rest of the day, I'm not going to think about the what ifs. I'm just going to enjoy today! (And be grateful none of the neighbors got upset by the outdoor trumpet practice!)