Three years ago we said “Goodbye” to our oldest, sending him off to college. I’ve written here before about that transition. Truthfully, it was a hard season. I wasn’t prepared for the meaning of the event, and the lingering difficulties associated with having a child out on his own. We missed our son and his presence in the home!
I’m reminded of that process of raising a child, then saying goodbye as we did that very thing – once more – this morning. I was up at 4:20 a.m. to take Dakota and also his younger brother, Seth to the airport.
As I write this, they are en route to two destinations 1,000 miles away from home. Big brother now tackles his final year at Hillsdale College in Michigan. Son #2 is off to Portland, Oregon to stretch his wings a bit. So the transition is happening yet again. My sons are now men, and our relationship is changed forever. Life in our home will be very different without these boys – we love them dearly, and will miss their help, conversations and humor.
So today, especially, I’m feeling the loud “tick tock” of the clock. It is really hard to believe that we’re already pretty much done with the training of two – two! – kids. While they’ll likely seek out wisdom from time to time, we’re watching them make life work out on their own terms. Now we only have four left in the home – wow!
As I reflect, I think back to the earlier years of sleepless nights, emotional outbreaks, temper tantrums and such. About those bleary-eyed days and nights, another parent wondered,
“When is my work as a parent done?”
From what I can tell, the parenting journey is a life-long marathon. It certainly doesn’t end with a child’s 18th birthday or their move out of the house. It changes, then, of course. But our work as Moms and Dads begins before that baby enters the world and ends…when? Based on observation and the on-going trials some parents I know are enduring – with their adult kids – truth be told, probably never!
Parenting is one tough, lifelong job. As to the importance of the role, the late Adrian Rogers observed,
Home is the university of life, with parents as the professors, children as students and life as the lab.
You may not be able to grasp how quickly time flies past, especially if you are stressed by raising young children right now. Those early years can be hard – and, in fact, the entire parenting journey can be hard! But you are training your child – intentionally or not – and soon enough he or she will head off for “life.”
As the old song said,
Teach your children well…
While I ponder these past years with our now grown boys, I feel compelled to encourage parents with younger kids to make the most of these years of “education.” Maximize the opportunities – while you have them! Make memories. Give parenting your all. Pour into that child and keep your eyes set on the goal: to have a healthy well-adjusted adult who has character and loves God. Seize the moment, and drink in the gifts God gives to you today as a mom or dad. You’ll always be parent, but one day you’ll have a different relationship with that child, that of friend. Do the early years well, and look forward to having kids that you can enjoy when they are adults.
So, your job as a parent is not over – ever. Decide today to run this race with endurance and hope, and with joy! I’m committed to do so as today, and will let the day’s emotions and reflections push me to be a better dad.
A number of things popped into my mind as I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how couples share – or don’t share – the bed. Excerpt:
Bedroom bickering goes beyond sex and snoring. Couples argue about everything from what time to turn out the lights to who hogs the covers. Should you keep the window open or closed? Watch TV while your partner sleeps? Let the kids climb into bed with you when they’re scared? It’s a wonder anyone gets any shut-eye at all.
Reactions: Been there, done that. While true for Dena and me, this has been especially when our children were younger.
Despite feeling like we’re the only ones with these struggles, our different sleep needs and cycles seem pretty pretty common. I need 7 hours, she needs 9 hours. I’m an early riser, she’s not. She sleeps soundly in second half of the night, I sleep better during the first hours.
For years I would say goodnight to Dena around 9, then stay up another couple of hours. I just wasn’t ready for shut-eye at 9 p.m. The next morning, I’d be up and at ‘em an hour or two before her. Not a big deal, but it did take some adjusting. Conversations at night didn’t work, and I’d be in the hurry-get-to-work rush in the mornings. We had to work at making some time for good talks.We had to learn when we could have that casual time couples need to keep close.
Lately, we’ve been on a more compatible schedule. She often gets up before me, but still crashes around 9-9:30. I am often staying up past that. So while we’ve not had big conflicts over sleep, over the years we’ve had some…”learning opportunities.”
I also thought about Dr. Arch Hart, whose book about sleep has influenced our family. What a challenging resource! Here’s a conversation we had with Dr. Hart, in which he suggested that some couples might even consider having two beds – to avoid those sleep issues and to get some good, consistent sleep.
How about you? Have you had any sleep differences, or bedtime problems – like cover hogging – that have needed solutions?
My two oldest boys are 22 and 19 years of age. While my wife and I trained them for many years with passion and intentionality about Christ, their walk with God is now their own. They are “working out their faith” in different ways, with different perspectives on several aspects of the Christian walk, particularly when it comes to “community” (aka “local church”).
In some ways, my sons’ views on church are reflective of a growing challenge in the Christian community: How to reach out, engage and retain 20-somethings as active members/participants?
Recent statistics have shown an increasing exodus of young people from churches, especially after they leave home and live on their own. In a 2007 study, Lifeway Research determined that 70% of young Protestant adults between 18-22 stop attending church regularly.
So what are we to do?
I posted the above factoid on Facebook the other day, and here are some of the comments in reply:
- I think there are two things going – one is the fact that a number of kids whose faith is shallow fall away once they get to the university and have their beliefs attacked, but also a lot of churches ignore the critical young adult years when kids are forming their worldview separate from their parents and tell them to come back when they are 30 and married…and they don’t come back…The church could do young adult ministry a lot, lot better.
- I don’t see a lot of difference in the 18-22 year olds who stop going to church because it has no relevance for them…Church stopped being relevant when pastors turned it into one giant group therapy session instead of preaching the gospel.
- One question to ask is if this falling away is permanent. This time period is when they’re on they’re own for the first time, setting their own schedule, living through the consequences of choices made as an adult. I wonder how many of them later come back when they realize they miss the part that corporate worship had in their lives?
Here’s an article in the Wall Street Journal about the dilemma that faces today’s churches: How to attract younger believers without losing the heart of the Gospel message? By the way, the author is 27 years old – which gives him some “street cred,” in my book.
Parents and church advocates/critics: Any thoughts?
From a journal entry about five years ago, the following captures the value of investing in the life of your child – especially as he or she enters the turbulent teen years.
It was a day to spend some time with my oldest daughter.
We started with our weekly “Bagel and Bible” time, in which we head to a local coffee shop and have some breakfast. Along the way, as we conversed, we opened the Scriptures and interacted about a particular passage…and yesterday we tackled a hard one – Lamentations. All of it. I gave an overview of what the writer was trying to convey, the historical setting and also some thoughts about how we might apply some of the truths in the book to our lives today. The “weeping prophet” needed some contextualization for an 11 year-old, but I think it was a pretty meaningful conversation. I benefited from the reminder of right living and God’s forgiveness.
Several hours later, I ended up being the driver to pick her up from an after-church event. That made for a nice drive home with her – and nobody else in the car – during which we discussed the activities and people involved. She shared from her heart, and I felt a great privilege in offering some encouragement.
Mid-afternoon found us headed on another errand. Casual, it became a little chit-chat time for us.
Late afternoon she called when I was at the grocery store, and asked me to bring home some Cheerios for a dessert recipe she had started. This was a treat to take on a forthcoming trip. Dutifully, I grabbed a box. When I got home, she thanked me…not an overly meaningful exchange, but she expressed her gratitude for helping her out in a small way.
All in all, a number of little interactions with an 11 year-old daughter who still looks up to me and values my attentions.
So…this morning. As I head out the door, on my desk I find a small item, some of that dessert she made with the Cheerios wrapped carefully in foil, along with a handwritten note. It was a nice little gesture. And it reminded me that the payoff was not just today, in getting a sweet treat from my daughter.
The payoff really was yesterday. Time invested wisely. Not always overly purposeful. Didn’t have to be. The point for my adolescent daughter was that she spent time with her Daddy. And that I cared enough to be there for the little rhythms of life. I had made time to be with her.
Her note was simple and to the point. And it made me tear up.
“To my father who loves me.”
What a welcome reminder…of the power God has given me as a Daddy.
That daughter is now a vibrant 16 year-old. I’m happy to report that I still have her heart…she still looks up to me, and she’s still open to my fatherly advice and guidance. I’m a fortunate man!
Here’s hoping I make good use of that “Daddy power” today in her life, and in the lives of my other children.
“Outside of Steve Jobs at Apple, it’s hard to imagine a CEO that is more important to his company than Mark Hurd to Hewlett-Packard. He did a massive turnaround job.”
That’s how Rick Munarriz, a Motley Fool analyst, described the leadership of the now-fallen Hurd, who resigned Friday following a probe into a sexual-harassment claim against him made by a former HP contractor. Those allegations included a charge that Hurd had approved false reimbursement submissions by the woman.
While he evidently didn’t violate the company’s sexual-harassment policy, Hurd “demonstrated a profound lack of judgment that seriously undermined his credibility and damaged his effectiveness in leading HP,” according to General Counsel Michael Holston.
I’m not going to sit in judgment of Mr. Hurd, who is guilty of, at the least, making some poor choices. As a result of the revelations, he has made some sort of settlement with the former contractor. He has lost his job. And stockholders are losing money as HP shares are dropping in value.
I’m sure Hurd regrets what has happened. He’ll remember this indiscretion for the rest of his life. He doesn’t need me to heap any guilt on him. Instead, I’m letting this news story be a reminder that today I’m capable of poor choices. I need to live with wisdom, avoiding impropriety. I have to keep my life in line with my values and words. I need to demonstrate integrity in all things. I can’t have any holes in my life.
“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” That’s a quote attributed to C.S. Lewis, and I think that’s a pretty good thing to keep in mind as I go about my activities. Especially when no one is looking.
Related to this subject: Authenticity. More on that at a later date, but for now, consider this radio interview for a relevant, biblical perspective on living life consistently, in all ways.
Focus on the Family is in the news as we deal with a budget that isn’t quite adding up. Many of our friends have been affected by the recession – so has this organization. While there have been a number of stories in the press, here are Jim Daly’s thoughts about the steps taken to make sure we’re making sure we’re “living within our means.”
On a lighter note, we’re finding a lot of folks connecting with us through our new Facebook page.You can listen to programs there, and leave comments, too.
Sen. Tom Coburn discusses the importance of looking past political differences and befriending political opponents. Listen here to this engaging conversation, which also touches on the significance of the Elena Kagan hearings and the appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick to oversee health care.
Our theme on a recent Focus on the Family broadcast centered on the ways we tend to shield ourselves in different relationships by hiding behind emotional masks. During that conversation, guests Julie Barnhill and Shaunti Feldhahn talked about being addicted to pride. This link will take you to a small quiz to help you identify whether you are operating either from a position of pride or brokenness in your relationships.
(Note, link fixed, sorry for the inconvenience!)