Parenting is the hardest job I have ever had in this lifetime. It is also the one job that has brought tremendous joy and happiness. I entered parenthood determined to give this job all of me, the very best parts of me.
As I’m rounding the corner of this journey and my two teenagers are edging closer and closer to adulthood, I’ve been reflecting back on my journey as a parent. I had to learn to parent day by day, by making mistakes and by getting things right. I want to remind myself of the basic skills, thinking, and philosophy that has brought me this far on my parenting journey.
- Parent with the end in mind – I constantly asked what God wanted this child to look like? What kind of adult did He want them to be? I want to be sure they have the tools they need to be whole and healthy as they launch into adulthood. I have compared being a parent to being a director in a film. The director’s job is to guide the film and creative process with the big vision and the end in mind. They have to imagine and think what they want the film to look like, feel like, and emote. The director has to consider everything that goes into the production and creative process – the microphones, the costumes, the sets, the actors, the lighting – with the final picture in mind. As a parent, it’s my job to be the director in my kid’s lives, helping them see the final picture. I have to help them consider the things that go into their lives and how that will influence the adults they become.
Practically speaking, that means I am intentional about some specific areas in relationship with my kids.
- Build confidence – I am intentional about helping my kids build true self-confidence. This comes through both failure and success as they journey through childhood. If I teach my kids that their confidence lies only in what they do, what they win, or what they accomplish, I am giving them a very shallow surface to build their confidence on. Kids need to learn that their confidence comes from their identity. I used to tell my kids when they left for school every day, and still sometimes remind them, “They don’t get to define you!” I was intentionally helping my kids learn that their identity is not shaped by what others think or say about them. Their identity is shaped in who God created them to be. One of my catch phrases was “Remember who you are and whose you are!”
- Build character – I have been intentional since day one to instill a moral compass in my kids lives. We have worked hard to establish a clear knowledge of right and wrong. When my kids were little, I recognized that one day they would be teenagers and I would not be with them 24/7 to help them make decisions, build relationships, and navigate life. I was intentional very early to help them build character that would serve them well during their teenage years. I admit there were times that teaching a three-year old about honesty was very challenging. Just as teaching a nine-year-old about patience and generosity stretched my capacity as a human.
As I enjoy the teenage years with my kids, I can celebrate that I began with the end in mind! Having spent their childhood building confidence and character, I get to watch them now as teenagers, have the skills to make hard choices, develop relationships, and navigate life with courage, grace, and dignity. There is more to this conversation, so stay tuned tomorrow!