Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Purpose of Parenting

I don't usually sit and ponder the purpose of parenting.  I just do it. There's not a lot a time in the midst of it for great reflection. Sometimes, though, something will occur that forces me to think about it. That thing this week was my completely empty and quiet house.  I had been Facebook posting with a friend about the fact that neither one of us had gotten enough letters from our kids while they were at camp despite providing them with an ample supply of self-addressed stamped envelopes.  (I got one letter but had three kids at camp.  She didn't get anything from her daughter.)

The quiet is probably what caused me to reflect most.  Since I did not have three other people I had to take care of this week, I was left with a little bit of time to myself.  "So," I thought, "what is the purpose of being a parent?  What am I doing here?"  I know there are people who think it all through before becoming pregnant.  There are some who don't think about it all. John and I were somewhere in the middle. I suppose your philosophy in life can have a lot to do with why you become a parent.  For most, probably, it is just a natural next step in life, especially after marriage.  Isn't that just what most people do?

So, you've had a kid or two or eight (yes, I do know some with 7 and 8).  What do you do with them now?  Why has God given you these children?  What are you supposed to do with them now that you have them?  Sure, we feed them, and we keep them clean.  We teach them their colors and their ABCs.  For some, they are sent them off to school to learn the rest.  Others teach them at home to learn the rest.  Is that where it ends?  Of course not!  There is so much more to life than teaching the academics.  They need to learn how to function in this world that is full of other people.  What does it mean to be a contributing member of society?  How will they have meaningful, lasting relationships?  What is proper etiquette in various situations?  How do they figure out what God's purpose is for them in life?

Do we raise them so they stay home with us for the rest of their lives?  NO!  We raise them and hold them close while they're little so that eventually we can let them go.  We raise them to hopefully be able to be independent in their own lives.  I know as I reflected this week on my role as a parent I was struck by the incredible task I've been given.  I've got five years and then I will send my oldest out into the world.  I hope that I am instilling in him a love for the Lord Jesus so much so that it dominates every aspect of his life, especially when he's on his own, when his dad and I aren't around to keep him safe and help him reason through a situation.  He needs to be able to figure out what God's purpose is for his life.  I don't want any of my kids to be so dependent on me that they cannot function in society, that they cannot "cut the cord" so to speak and figure out who they are and what their life should look like.

Perhaps all this talk about our kids finding out what their purpose is in life has caused you to wonder what your purpose is.  I mean, isn't that why our parents raised us?  They hopefully taught us enough to go out into the world and live independently, fulfilling that God-given purpose for our lives.  Well, if you are a parent, that is your purpose whether you planned it or not.  I know there are so many other things in our lives besides being a parent.  I've got the burners on at least 5 stoves filled myself.  But is there anything more important than raising honest, trustworthy, kind, generous...children, children who have more going on for them than just being a really good book learner?  They may make a lot of money if they are good book learners, but they will impact others and the rest of the world more if they are "trained up" in the "way they should go." (Proverbs 22:6)

Take parenting seriously.  Think about the future.  People used to say to me when I'd hit hard times with my kids "This too shall pass."  It does, but don't let their childhood pass without you instilling in them values which they can then pass onto their children who will impact the next generation and so on and so on.

God's Blessing to You!!

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