And Another Thing…

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One for the parents out there

As a rule I don’t forward or post the copious forwards I find in my in-box on a daily basis. However, I received one today that struck me for a number of reasons and I thought that I would share it.

Christine and I are already trying to plan for the children we hope to have in a couple of years. And I see more and more of my friends becoming parents and facing the inevitable responsibilities that the job brings. So I want to invite those with children to read the essay below and chime in. Is worrying the biggest part of parenting? How do worries change as children age. Have your worries intensified or lessened? How do you cope? Any feedback is welcomed.

Is there a magic cutoff period when offspring become accountable for their own actions? Is there a wonderful moment when parents can become detached spectators in the lives of their children and shrug, “It’s their life,” and feel nothing?

When I was in my twenties, I stood in a hospital corridor waiting for doctors to put a few stitches in my daughter’s head. I asked, “When do you stop worrying?” The nurse said, “When they get out of the accident stage.” My Dad just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my thirties, I sat on a little chair in a classroom and heard how one of my children talked incessantly, disrupted the class, and was headed for a career making license plates. As if to read my mind, a teacher said, “Don’t worry, they all go through this stage and then you can sit back, relax and enjoy them.” My dad just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my forties, I spent a lifetime waiting for the phone to ring, the cars to come home, the front door to open. A friend said, “They’re trying to find themselves. Don’t worry, In a few years, you can stop worrying. They’ll be adults.” My dad just smiled faintly and said nothing.

By the time I was 50, I was sick & tired of being vulnerable. I was still worrying over my children, but there was a new wrinkle. There was nothing I could do about it. MyDad just smiled faintly and said nothing. I continued to anguish over their failures, be tormented by their frustrations and absorbed in their disappointments.

My friends said that when my kids got married I could stop worrying and lead my own life. I wanted to believe that, but I was haunted by my dad’s warm smile and his occasional, “You look pale. Are you alright? Call me the minute you get home. Are you depressed about something?”

Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry? Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of human frailties and the fears of the unknown? Is concern a curse or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest form of life?

One of my children became quite irritable recently, saying to me, “Where were you? I’ve been calling for 3 days, and no one answered I was worried.” I smiled a warm smile. The torch has been passed.

 -Author Unknown

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8 Responses

  1. David B says:

    My two year old regularly throws giant tantrums during church. It bothers me very much when my wife has to take her out every single Sunday.

    Funny thing is, most everybody else at church does not seem to mind (or at least do not say so). They’ll say “oh, it’s just a stage, and she’s so cute anyway”.

    As far as behavior is concerned, I think we worry much more about our own kids than others do. When we think others will worry we are terrible tantrums, most everybody else is thinking, “wow, I’m glad I’m past that…poor people”. Kids will do what they do…while you can guide them and read all sorts of stuff to tell you how to do, for the most part they will be who they are, and you can’t really change that, and most people realize it, at least somewhat.

  2. Kelli says:

    i wouldn’t say that worrying is the biggest part of parenting, but it is definitely there. from the time the baby is conceived, you worry (well, i do anyway, but i’m a worrier). i worry about the things out of my control, but i have to remember that God is the one in control and i need to trust in Him. the worst part is worrying about the things in your control… the things that you feel are your responsibility as a parent. am i raising her right? am i teaching her about God enough so that she will become a spiritual person? am i disciplining in the right way so that she grows up with boundaries and manners? this could just be a mom thing, because i don’t think Brent has as many worries as i do. and it could also be because, like i said before, i’m a worrier. with each stage you have different worries. as a baby, you just want to make sure she is getting enough to eat and stays healthy. as they get mobile, you want to make sure they are in a safe environment. as they become a toddler, you want to make sure they develop the right skills, etc. i haven’t been past that point yet, but by talking to parents of older kids, i can imagine all of the things that will cross my mind on a daily basis. anyway, i’m not sure you wanted such a long comment, but there you go (and i probably could have gone on)! don’t let the worrying scare you though… like i said it’s just part of parenting. the joy you receive is so worth it. the main thing i tell myself, and pray about daily, is to trust in God… that He will guide me as a parent and keep my family safe. He knows what He is doing. 🙂

  3. Exactly! That article says it all! The advantage of believing in the God of the universe and Jesus, our mediator between us and Him is that we have hope, even when our kids disappoint us, when they scare us, when they render us (almost) speechless by their seemingly thoughtless choices! The difference is that instead of worrying, we can decide on a minute by minute basis to give over our worry to our all knowing and powerful God, all of the while we are trying to do what He would have us do as parents. I’ve noticed that every stage of our children’s lives has its worries and concerns. When they are newborns, we are constantly checking to make sure they are still breathing. When they are crawling around on the floor, we spend our mornings scrubbing and inspecting those floors for hidden germs and dangers. When they are almost walking, we wonder why they aren’t yet. When they are walking, we run around doing interferance with all of the things they might fall down or climb up and then fall down. Before school, we agonize over which school they should attend and how these strangers might influence their lives. In school, it’s a constant concern about whether they are learning at the right speed, whether they are being damaged or influenced by people around them. When they are beyond our daily reach, we insist on knowing their friends–but even at that, do we really KNOW their friends? We have to decide how much to trust each child–and to not treat one child unjustly because another one has pushed our limits in the area of trust. When they disappoint us, we have to remember that we probably have disappointed them, too. And listening is so important! So how many times do you listen to the same excuse? And if you think you are being manipulated, you probably are…. Then they are adults and you think you are finished….you, are, really unless they come to you for advice and with their own concerns. But you never stop worrying/giving your worries over to God!! Just don’t be like me and get more creative with your worries than you have to be. For instance, “What if…..you fill in the blanks….” I can have a family member dead, buried and me wracked with guilt over a seemingly innocuous decision that I MADE….like, “Sure, you can go over to John’s house, spend the night and then go with him to his grandfather’s house and ride 4 wheelers.” Wait, that one actually DID almost result in the death of my son, Nathan, who by the way, is the one who just about made the stock go up in the company that sells the dye I use on my hair. I wish I could say that being a Christian parent takes away all of the worry! I can say that being a Christian parent makes you expect more of yourself and your children, your marriage and your friends…..sometimes that is a hard thing to live up to and even a harder thing for your children to live up to. Grace has to be taught and given on a daily basis, along with the teaching about right and wrong. And no matter how tempting it is to speak your mind about people who come into the realm of influence in your children’s lives, don’t be judgemental. Teach your children to judge behaviors, not people, and don’t ever pronounce judgement on another person, especially another Christian….even with your attitude. Our kids, more than anyone else, are hurt when we don’t love one another (and them) the way Jesus wants the church to love one another. I think that right there is what breeds cynicism, doubt and unbelief in our kids. Good luck with all that! 🙂 Having said all of that, I wouldn’t trade being Don’s wife, the mother of our four sons, and the grandmother of our little grandbaby for anything. I only would choose to do it all better!

  4. Trey says:

    Wow, I haven’t read that. Powerful. I know as a dad of a 6, 11, 16 and 18 year old boy, I haven’t stopped worring one bit. And as one leave home soon … my heart worries more.

    Thanks for sharing…

  5. Kelly says:

    Being a parent is about two things, as far as I can tell: guilt and worry. You are either worried about something, or feeling guilty about something. Constantly. That said, I wouldn’t trade my son for anything, he’s the greatest gift I’ve ever received. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Nothing like being a parent. It doesn’t just change your life, it changes how you perceive life… in every way. That’s why your parents laugh at you, because they’ve been there and they know, there is little you can do to change things. You worry and grieve, but the best you can do is sit back and watch, and hope you won’t feel too guilty when they mess up. If you can give your children a strong moral upbringing, and lots of love, they will probably turn out ok. Stressing about much more than that is a waste of time, although you’ll do it anyway.

  6. odgie says:

    Dave – You are right that it is nature *and* nurture with child development. And while I understand that it bothers you that your wife has to take your daughter out of worship, at least your wife *does* take her out. Many parents don’t, and that drives me buggy nuts.

    Kelli – Rachel is a really sweet kid. Just don’t get on her too much about going to Tech 🙂

    Jerri – Excellent feedback, especially the part about breeding cynicism. I am sure that with as many boys as you and Don have, you have had more than your share of worry over the years. If I were you, i’d copy and paste your comment for a post on your own blog.

    Trey – I have said it before; anyone who can wrangle four boys to adulthood would deserve a spot in the Parenting Hall of Fame if such a place existed. Regardless, based on the picture I get of you from your writing, it sounds like your boys are growing up to be young men that you can be proud of.

    Kelly – Parenting is all about “guilt and worry”? You are not encouraging me to give you nephews and/or nieces anytime soon:) On the other hand, your comment reveals some of the dynamics of parenting, because I know Brooks well and he is a great kid. If, as the parent of such a good kid, you still have guilt and worry, it leads me to think that those two characteristics really are inevitable in child-rearing.

  7. Trey says:

    Thanks … I pray for them daily.

  8. […] Mike shares some reflections on parenthood. […]

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