I have three sons. They are all very dear and precious to me. The first son, Enoch, is a junior at A&M in College Station. The second son, Caleb, just went to UT Austin as a freshman. And the third one, Josiah, is a junior at Taylor High School in Katy. In two more years, he, too, will move away for college.
My wife and I went up to Austin with Caleb a few weekends ago to help him settle in his dorm. We also wanted to visit a church or two with him to see which church family might be a good one for him to join so he can learn and serve to grow spiritually during the four years he will be living in Austin. I knew that this day was going to come but never realized that it was going to come this fast.
My wife tells me time to time that I was too strict with Enoch. I don’t deny it because he was the first child and parenting was very new to me. I wanted to raise him to be a responsible person especially because he was the first son. Therefore, in the course of attempting to accomplish this goal, I said things to him that I shouldn’t have said or I said things that needed to be said but not in the right way. I also used the rod on him more often than necessary. But God is so much more gracious than I expect or deserve because, with all my mistakes and shortcomings, Enoch is walking with the Lord, has a heart for people with special needs, and is on his way to become fiscally more responsible.
On the other hand, Caleb is the second son and my expectation of him was not as high as it was for Enoch. Moreover, he watched and learned from what was happening at home and made his decisions and behaved more wisely. That’s why I just couldn’t accept the fact that this “baby” second son of mine, who I still mistakenly think and believe needs my help and protection, is going off to college to be on his own. My wife and I were very sad when we dropped Enoch off at College Station two years ago. But the feelings that I experienced a few weekends ago was very different. It is very hard to explain in words but words like void and emptiness come to mind.
There are a few things that I think I have done well in life. When it comes to these things, there is no regret in my heart. However, parenting is one of many areas in my life that I wish I would have done better and differently. I wish I would have gone camping with my sons more so we could cook, play, build a campfire together and talk about anything and everything with each other endlessly late into the night. I wish I was more understanding towards them. I wish I was more encouraging to them as I challenged them and demanded more of them.
The past is gone. The future is not here. The only thing that I can do something about is the present which can affect the future in a positive way and heal and restore that which was lost in the past. So, I come before God and make a commitment to do better today trusting He will take care of the rest.
Our society has been moving towards the direction of putting our children on a pedestal, paying too much attention to them. I don’t want New Life parents to idolize their children. At the same time, I don’t want us to neglect our children either. We must learn to parent our children in such a way that they understand that God is the center of the universe, not them; that they are called and given the privilege to enter into this personal and love relationship with Him through His Son Jesus; and that this relationship needs to be characterized by deep respect, gratitude, love and submission.
How this will play out in each family will differ from family to family, parent to parent and child to child. Therefore, we must come before God and spend enough time in prayer asking Him for wisdom and guidance. If we do this with the full intention of obeying Him, He will speak to us and guide us. Also, talk to other parents who are older than you who have older children. Ask them what they did well and what they didn’t do so well in raising their children. Be challenged by their success stories and learn from their mistakes.
Time is passing us by very fast. Soon, your children will leave your nest and you will experience the “two gone, only one left” moment. Live by Mathew 6:33 and become a parent that God wants you to be before it is too late.
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