If I close my eyes, I can still see the hospital room and feel the excitement of the big moment. It was early in the morning on November 8, 1998. After a very long day and night our daughter Bethany was about to be born.
The excitement and anticipation had been building for months. We were as ready as we’d ever be. At 25 years of age, I was going to be a dad – and I was scared stiff!
I had no experience.
I felt completely unqualified.
As with all first time parents I had to learn as I fumbled along. It was on the job training. Of course I have made a ton of mistakes in the process (and I will continue to make mistakes).
Somehow though we have survived the first 13 years of parenting. Our oldest daughter is officially a teenager today! (And I thought I was scared then:))
I know I still have a lot to learn and I will have to learn it on the job. Over the past 13 years though I have learned a few things about being a parent.
3 practical suggestions on parenting
1. Listen to your children.
Become a student of your son or daughter by simply listening to not only what he is she is telling you but how it is being said.
Contrary to popular opinion our children don’t want stuff; they want us! They want to spend time with us. They want to be with us. The best things in life are free. Be generous with hugs, kisses, affirmation and praise. Lift your kids up and tell them how proud you are of them.
Never underestimate the power of praying for your children. Pray for and with them at meals and bedtime, during your commute to work, when dropping them off at school and quietly in their room while they’re sleeping. Let God know that you see your children as a blessing.
A difficult question
When I am old and gray and my girls are grown and gone will I look back with a sense of peace and joy? Or will I have regrets and wonder what could have been?
I believe the key to living a regret-free life is often found in one’s ability to see the end at the beginning.
When our house becomes quiet and tidy and the curtain falls on my job of intense, day-to-day parenting, what will I remember about this time?
Here are a few things I’ll remember:
- Hearing my daughter’s first cries and holding them tight, scared to death that I would drop them …
- Late night drives in the rain on a dark road to help an upset toddler fall asleep …
- First steps and first words …
- Skinned knees and bruised elbows …
- Board games and walks …
- BBQ’s at the beach and family vacations …
- And, best of all, seeing their eyes light up and their hearts open up to the reality of the gospel and the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
These are only a smattering of the memories and I know there are many more still to be made. In the end, these will be among the things that will really matter.
What practical suggestions on parenting do you have to offer?
***** This post was inspired by “Day 6: No Experience Required” from the book “The 21-Day Dad’s Challenge” by Carey Casey