Parenting is a funny thing. Unlike many of life’s other decisions, parenting is often entered into without a whole lot of forethought. When we think about what career we want we give it a lot of consideration. We think about how a particular career will fit with our gifts and talents, we think through what kind of income we will need, and we think about what type of school or training we will have to go through. When we get married we often plan for months and go to marriage counseling and try to prepare ourselves for the difficult transition.
There may not be a single event in your life that affects you more than having kids. For most of us, it requires a total change in our level of self-sacrifice. It puts demands on our patience, sleep, marriage, and finances. When you become a mom or dad, for the first time someone completely and totally becomes dependent on you, and will be greatly affected by your choices. You can’t just run off into the mountains and escape from the pressures of life any more. That option comes at too high of a cost now. You’re stuck here for eighteen years.
That’s pretty serious! You’d think you’d need a license for that, or at least a permit. Shouldn’t you have to take six weeks of preparenting classes like you do with marriage, or maybe several classes at the community college?
For many of us, parenting was more of a byproduct of a relationship than it was something we consciously thought through. Or perhaps we knew that we wanted children, but we really had no idea of the demands it would have on our lives.
I guess what got us to this point is somewhat irrelevant. We are at this point. God has given us the charge of raising His little ones, and we need to carry out that charge faithfully. We need to take careful inventory of our lives. Where are we? Where do we want to be? And how do we get there?
It’s premeditated parenting. I’m not talking about thinking through whether or not to have children. I’m talking about parenting. Pregnancy might be something that just happens to us, but parenting requires thoughtful and strategic planning.
I often worry that people raise children much like they do pets. Just keep them fed and watered and don’t let them irritate the neighbors too much. Keep their messes to a minimum, and train them enough to keep them somewhat enjoyable. A pat on the head here and there mixed in with a good scolding now and then…that about sums it up for many parents.
That may create an 18-year-old, but that is unlikely to produce a godly man or woman of God, a champion, a good citizen, a leader, or even a good follower. Raising a child to physical maturity is fairly straightforward (if not nerve-wracking), but raising an 18-year-old world-changer is quite another matter.
With God’s help we need to rise to the challenge and take seriously the charge with which we’ve been entrusted.