1 Nov 2015

You are the best parents for your child(ren): 3 anchors for your kids' bright future

Go on and ask me. Yes, the Q:

how much is enough?

This question comes at us especially when we feel the harsh winds that augur breakage. Did I do 

Until bottle feeding became vogue so that we could mark of how many mililitres the little one drank; the babe just sucked, we felt lighter..and then it was enough, most of the time!

We have invented so many ways of measuring ourselves: weight and height charts, growth goals, nutritional intake charts, and of course the all-important school grades. It's little wonder we ask ourselves this Q. 

Just that it's really hard to actually measure many things in life; especially those that matter.

Did we love enough? Some days it just doesn't feel like we did - and it's often those days we've worked to our bone already! Or maybe we tried what worked before; but it doesn't work this round.

So to be honest, I don't know when any of it is enough. 

But perhaps that's the wrong question after all. 

We may be better off starting off with a vision of what life is all about and preparing our children for it. For those of us who live and love with a view of eternity, here are 3 things to anchor on: 

1. soak them in Scripture

Religion is boring. Truth is not. The Bible is truthful about the human condition. The Bible brings forth Truth by recording for us who God is and what the world is about. The Bible can surface truth in our hearts as we let it wash over us.

One of the most astounding things for me to this day is how both my children are drawn to God because of the pictures, stories, wonder, awe, and reality they encounter in Scripture. I felt I rarely needed to explain or defend God to them. He is there within the pages. My son said spontaneously when he was three that he really wanted to meet Jesus!

A side benefit: mothering in the earliest days was a lot of daily humdrum. Singing the songs of faith - fun, quirky, contemplative - were life-savers for me. The beat helped keep my feet moving and the music drew child and mother into a larger circle.

2. show them how you get through the hard stuff

We all want to feel secure. Yet life can throw so many surprises at us. Job losses, friends turning away, romance all but fizzled out, repeated disappointments... Children get their share of disappointment too. The sudden rain. The haze. The toy that cannot be shared / bought... We need to live through these things without becoming a cynic or a crusty old soul.

In your choices, your prayers, your countenance (yes, smile still), children find hope and build resilience as they watch us breathe deep and walk on.

3. seek big dreams {and don't conclude too soon}

Perhaps 1 in a million kids really have a clue what they want to be and do. They may change their minds still.

One of the things we regularly forget is how wonderful ordinary is. There's nothing 'ordinary' - not as Mother Teresa reminds us, when we do little things with great love!

"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." ~ Galatians 5v6

Faith is believing in something you don't quite yet see. {Wait, don't get carried away with your unfulfilled dreams and beware trying to live your life over again through your children!}. It is really hard to imagine how our children will finally turn out. I have certainly met enough parents who have sighed a huge relief that after tempestuous years; the children emerged right side up after all!

The object of our faith then cannot be the future we dream up. It is faith in Someone, rather than something. Faith that Someone cares deeply and walks daily with you through the loops and twists.

And here's a warning: don't get all besotted with the spectacular. It is so easy these days when children can sing, dance, cook, and who knows what next!  I am truly amazed at the capabilities of these children. But I take care not to let my children seem less because of the glare from these shining, stunning ones.

Also, it's important to distinguish between what is spectacular and what is truly useful. I borrow these wise words from Eric Massanari:

Our excitable minds are easily drawn to all that appears exciting, attractive, innovative, and extraordinary. What’s more, the mind has an amazing, natural capacity for categorization and evaluation; we are quick to judge our experiences and encounters as pleasing or displeasing, welcome or unwelcome, holy or unholy. Given these tendencies we can be found grumbling our way through the mundane, anxiously suffering through the pain, and chasing after transient moments of pleasure. An entire consumer culture has been built around our preferences, trying to sell us all manner of things and experiences to amplify the pleasure, avoid the boredom, and anesthetize the pain.
{ The stories of scripture are full of women and men who are learning how to perceive the presence of God in the midst of their daily rounds and the shadowed valleys of their lives }
This isn’t just a modern phenomenon, of course; it is an old human story, as the biblical scriptures attest. The stories of scripture are full of women and men who are learning how to perceive the presence of God not only in moments of spiritual clarity and joy, but also in the midst of their daily rounds and the shadowed valleys of their lives.More than one character in the Bible echoes the words of Jacob who, surprised by God in the middle of a particularly barren moment, says: “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” (Genesis 28:16).

With faith-eyes, we seek to focus in on the daily Holy; but just in case we get all uptight {and some of our personalities are pretty strong on right/wrong spectrum} the verse says that faith needs to express itself in a loving way.

So guide your children lovingly to the One who knows and loves them without end. Help them discover dreams that are useful, work that adds value, creative endeavours that bring positive change.

Of course, along the way, you will be racked with many moments of doubt.... I always thought my daughter will make a great lawyer; or perhaps not....Not going to Law school after all? It's not the end of the world! It's not even the end of the story of her life. In fact, setbacks, obstacles and detours are part of what shape and define us.

Hold out those dreams that they will live large and love deep. Don't let who they are now fool 
you. Dream big and don't conclude too soon.

See God, real, present and at work. Help them take another step in the right direction.

Our destiny is found in our footsteps.
The imprint we leave is traced by  the footprints we make.

And the hope for our wrecked world? This -

credit: many thanks to Leunig!

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