Surviving Parenthood

Children, they’re everywhere! Screaming in the superstores, crying in the restaurants, running in the streets, leaping from chair to chair in the church, jumping down stairs, sitting in your chair, getting into your drawers, hiding in your closets, pulling on your legs, throwing sand while your reading your book on your holiday, there’s no getting away from them. We love them, we get angry at them, we pull our hair out because of them, we adore them, laugh with them, cry with them, cuddle them, kiss them, hug them and shout at them. They drive us insane and they melt out hearts, they say the worst of things and the best of things, at the wrong time and the right time. One minute they’re acting like adults and the next they’re acting like monsters.

God said that children are a gift from the Lord (Ps. 127:3). I wonder what God was thinking when he said “gift”? Was he laughing, because laughing is one of a parent’s survival technics? Is it a test? Well, I guess we failed that one! Was it to build character in us? That’s hard to answer when you’ve lost your mind!

God also said a good person leaves an inheritance to their children’s children (Prov. 13:22). All I can say is, No way! After all they put me through, I’m spending their inheritance! Every time I book that holiday I’m thinking,”This is payback, kids. Your mum and I are going to have fun, fun, fun!”

God also said, “At home, your wife will have many children, like a vine full of grapes. The children around your table will be like an orchard full of olive trees”, (Ps. 128:3). This promise can be a nightmare! Am I a daycare centre or a juvenile hall? Am I the warden or the prisoner?  The parent or the child? And it would be nice if my kids were more like olive trees because olive trees don’t talk back nor do they wiggle and bounce.

The most bazar thing of all is that children grow up and want to have children of their own children. It’s clear, we all think we can do a better job than our parents. Crazy!

Then there’s Proverbs 13:24: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves his children is careful to discipline them.” Oh, I should have practiced this verse more! Why was I so soft? Was it their tears, their quivering lower lip, those big doe eyes, those famous words,  ”That didn’t hurt”, or those intentionally crafted words that made me laugh just as I reached for the wooden spoon? Or was it because they had me exhausted? To tell you the truth, I can’t even remember, those years have all blurred into one big blank canvas.

Families – there have been billions of them and still no scientist can understand them, no doctor can cure them, no psychiatrist can explain them, no parent has survived them. Archaeologists have dug up the past looking for clues, authors have attempted to tell the family story, and ministers have prayed for parents and children alike.

Even God has bled for his children. He watched as his first human child Adam made a deal with the Devil. Then his kids became so bad that he couldn’t help or save them, so he had to start all over again. He even had to sacrifice one of his children to save all the other kids. He has wept over his children, gotten angry, furious and frustrated. And even today, God is still carrying the scars of parenting.

What is this thing that compels us to such delusion? Love! “For God so loved… that he gave…” Love gives, love sacrifices, love never fails, never quits, never gives up, and that is why families have gone on since the beginning of time.

We have been created in the image of God, and there is enough of God in us to have moments of unselfishness and put others first. That’s what it takes to be a family, putting others first, sacrificing, and giving selflessly.

I have known the power of this love. After all the mistakes my wife and I have made as parents, our children have turned out normal. How? By God’s grace and supernatural love. It’s the only explanation. God does what we could not do. God is the perfect parent. We, however, are not perfect kids. But when we, the imperfect, call on our Parent who is Perfect, he always give us the perfect answer.

And guess what? Our kids now have kids of their own. I get to watch it all over again. I’m tempted to say “It’s pay back time!” but I resist. They need the same grace I received from God.

But there is one thing I have learned. We all need far more help from God than we think we do.

After a lifetime of practice, are we any better, wiser, more accomplished parents? Most days it doesn’t feel like it. My grandkids still ask me questions I can’t answer. They’re better at using my iPhone than I am, and always have a fall back answer, ” My mummy says I can”.

So with each generation it begins all over again; loving with all that you are, crying until your heart breaks, and cherishing those perfect moments so full of joy and tenderness that you think, “life couldn’t possibly get any better than this…”

About the Author: Dan is an author, minister, blogger and counsellor who has ministered in over 40 nations, from conferences to churches, universities to outreaches he speaks mainly on marriage, family life and leadership. He is married with three grown children and they all work together in Getlifegroup.com to communicate the message of Christ in a relevant, convenient way to the world. You can find him on the web at http://getlifegroup.com