When parents welcome their bundle of joy and begin the journey of a lifetime, they might not realize how their roles will change as the years progress. They start out loving and serving their child and tending to all of their needs.
First, when I say PDA I am strictly talking G-rated stuff here: kisses, hugs, hand-holding, etc. So feel free to keep reading.
Here is the backstory:
My daughter is twelve years old, going on sixteen. Actually she has been going on sixteen since she was four. She loves fashion, is tall and thin, and has long blonde hair, blue eyes, and a radiant smile.
In short, I am going to be in trouble with the boys in a few years.
A couple of months ago my wife and I needed help. We were not talking, we were pretty rude to one another, and the worst part — we didn’t care whether we hurt each other or not. We had reached that nasty place where our hurts, frustrations, and disappointments with one another left us cold, detached, and numb.
At the same time we were preparing for our first speaking engagement as a couple in front of real people (versus online), which just happened to be at the annual marriage retreat we attend as a couple. In addition, I was preparing to present at the Sex Without Sheets online conference.
About a month or so ago just as the season for grass cutting hit full swing here in Indiana, we tried to start up our lawn mower and it wouldn’t cooperate. Nothing we did seemed to work. And this was our “new” lawnmower, which is a gently used mower given to us by a family member because our other mower kept breaking down.
So, our grass began to rise (as I’m sure our neighbor’s frustration did along with it). Then one day it happened. Two dads, our dads, converged on our house with lawn equipment and tools. My dad and my dad-in-law drove over an hour to our house with the intent of not only taking care of our grass, but getting our lawn equipment up and running.
Several years ago my wife, Stephana, and I were having a prolonged disagreement that was getting on the verge of destroying our relationship. We just couldn’t resolve it no matter what we tried.
Finally I couldn’t take it and I left our apartment, not knowing where I was going or when I was coming back. When I finally came to my senses (realizing I really had nowhere to go), I came home.
I gave a disclaimer to my wife the other day. I told her over the next few weeks I’ll be sitting on the couch watching a lot of TV. The reason? It’s one of my favorite times of the year, March Madness. The NCAA College Basketball National Tournament officially kicks off tomorrow. It is a crazy, fun time of year for both avid basketball fans, and those who only watch during the tournament.
When all is said and done, there will be one winner. One team will have overcome all obstacles and become a national champion. Each team puts in work all year long to reach this point of the season. One of the reasons my wife is okay with me watching so much TV during this time, is because much like the teams in the tournament I’ve put in the work prior to now in trying to be the best dad and husband I can be.
Recently I was offered coffee. I replied, “No.” My dislike for coffee is largely because my father despised it. I imitated his preferences and sneered at the stuff. I internalized the message that coffee is distasteful.
This illustrates an important parenting principal. Children imitate and eventually accept as normal the behavior, opinions and beliefs of their parents—healthy and unhealthy, good and bad, right and wrong.
One of my greatest goals in life is to influence people, and there are no people I desire to influence more than my children. They are truly the greatest lasting legacy that I will ever have.
There are five things that, by God’s grace, I try to be very intentional about doing with my children every single day. These things not only help me to be a better parent, but help me to be the greatest positive and spiritual influence in their lives.
This month we celebrated the birthdays of both of my sons. The oldest turned nine, and then a couple weeks later the youngest turned five. If you’ve experienced anything with raising boys you know they are at that sweet spot.
That sweet spot where life is amazing. The problems they have are forgotten minutes later, once the next ball gets thrown up, or they stumble across one of their action figures, or there is anything that grabs their attention for a split-second. The sweet spot where everything is AWESOME! (cue Lego Movie theme song)
The year was 1985. My third son, Jess, was five months old. His older brothers, Sam and Art, were five and three years old respectively. My wife, Nellie Jo, and I were exhausted. She, in particular, seemed never to rest with the demands of being a stay-at-home mom to three preschool boys.
I was sleeping little as well, dealing with the demands of being a full-time seminary student, serving as pastor of a small church, and working an additional thirty hours a week at a bank.