Published on: February 24, 2016
There’s nothing like the start of a new year to make you realise how quickly your ‘baby’ is growing up. It seems like just yesterday that it felt like they would never get out from under your feet and hiding behind your legs, and now they walk into their little school worlds with confidence, waving you goodbye and greeting a little friend by name whom you don’t even know. Milestones fly by and most of our days we are so busy straining for the next milestone that we forget how many have passed.
Parenthood is a funny thing, you know. It’s the only relationship in the world where the longer you know a person, the further apart you grow. As a mother, your child starts off literally inside of you, then just outside your body but still attached, skin-on-skin. Before long they’re shimmying off your lap and moments later it seems, they walk out the door with their own set of keys.
It is such an intense privilege to be the primary influence in another person’s life. And it doesn’t last long. We have a window of opportunity when our children are young to play a part in moulding their characters and setting them on their paths, and then it’s over. Input from parents to an adult child is either invited or scorned, no longer a for granted privilege.
So what are we going to do with it? In this world where countless children are growing up with far too little positive input from caring adults, what will we do to make sure that our children are not among the ‘un-parented’ majority?
I think it comes down to three major things:
1. Identity. Our children need to know who they are. Whether you are a single parent, a fostering granny, a full-time working-out-the-house mom or dad, or a full-time parent, you can give your child identity. You need to give your child identity. They’re looking to you, in whatever minutes or hours you have with them each day, and they want to know, “Who do you say that I am?” Your child might be the next super-model, Einstein, Bafana Bafana star, or rock star – but they need to know that who they are is YOUR son… YOUR daughter. Whatever life may throw at them, success or failure, opportunity or tragedy that can never change. That is their identity and they cannot lose it.
2. Secondly, Belonging. Every child needs to know that they have a ‘den’ to run to, just like when they are playing tag. They need to know there is somewhere they belong, that no matter what has happened out there in the big, scary world where they are trying to figure out how it all works and making mistakes in the figuring, sometimes big ones, there is a place that they are accepted and celebrated, not for their failures and successes, but for WHO THEY ARE. A son. A daughter. A member of the family who belongs.
3. Thirdly, Discipline. Discipline? Right up in the top three? Yes. Because when our children are given the gift of discipline, they are given the gift of learning how to master themselves. At this time of year, how many of us are wishing for a little more self-discipline, to be able to execute the great intentions we have going into a new year? Authority is an invested responsibility, given to parents for a short season. The idea is that we exercise our authority in disciplining our children to master their habits, their indulgences, their characters, and slowly hand over that authority to them in areas that they have mastered obedience, so that they are empowered to achieve in their futures whatever it is that they set their hearts and minds to. To fail in that responsibility as parents, is to give our children the powerful gift of a human life, without the skill to drive it.
Our eldest is thirteen now, and we are starting to be aware of that slight discontent that is a natural progression towards her leading her own life as an adult, making her own decisions, having her own opinions. At this stage, the moments of influence are already, ever so slightly, starting to decrease. As every parent, ever, always says, ‘It goes so quickly!’
Let’s not just be ordinary this year. Time is too short. Our children are among the privileged few who have someone to invest in their lives. Let’s make it count! Here’s to being extraordinary parents! Carpe Diem!