October 8, 2015 | TFA Communications |
Written By: Dr. Steve Whitaker, Head of School
After giving birth to her second child at 43, a well-known television personality said, ‘‘My generation left parenthood till 40. I’m not sure we got it right.’’ Another mom reflected, “We are living the new demographic paradigm, but we are certainly not living the dream.” The National Center for Health Statistics reported the number of moms who are giving birth to their firstborn at age 35 and older is nine times higher than in 1970.
What are the cautions for this new era of parenting? How can we raise children that will flourish? What are the lessons for all parents – young and old alike? Here are three principles that Tricia and I have tried to follow in raising our children – Amanda (Senior at the University of Florida), Stephen (Freshman at the University of Louisville), and Caleb (Seventh Grader at TFA).
They Are His, Not Ours
As Christ-followers, our parenting philosophy begins with a unique perspective. We see our children as treasures from above. They are not ours to possess forever. They are gifts from our Heavenly Father to be cherished, nurtured, and loved. We are stewards of these precious lives for a few short moments in time. Someone once said, “I’ve learned to hold lightly to that which God has given me because it hurts too much if He has to pry my fingers away when it’s time to let go.”
Prepare The Person, Not The Path
When our children face difficulty I want to rush in and fix things. To guard against this tendency, Tricia encourages me to focus on preparing the person (our child), rather than focusing on preparing the path (his/her circumstances). Allowing our children to experience failure and navigate difficulty is an essential part of a child becoming a skilled leader. When we rush in with the intent of “setting the record straight” or “standing up for our child” we often make a big mistake.
Less Running, More Resting
In Luke 10, Jesus told Martha to slow down. He said that her friend Mary had it right, she was resting at the feet of Jesus and not running around worrying what to do next. My personality is more like Martha. It’s a struggle for me to rest in God’s promises. It’s difficult for me to sit quietly and wait for Jesus to speak. However, the older I get the more important I realize this is. When we are running, we miss priceless moments. When we are resting we can listen to the heartbeat, and the heartaches, of our children.
Whether you’re a thirty-year-old mom of three or a fifty-year-old dad for the first time, I’ve got good news. You have a Heavenly Father who loves you, understands you, and wants to walk alongside you on this journey called parenting. Like you, He heard His son cry. Like you, He watched His son struggle with pain and rejection. Like you, He knows that parenting is not for the faint of heart. Like you, He knows the joy of welcoming His son home.
Be encouraged today. We’re in this together. And, most importantly, our Heavenly Father is by our side.
Steve Whitaker, Ph.D.
Head of School