My children were born in 1991 and 1993. Co-hosting a television program called Just For Parents for a sweet slice of that decade was providential! Sitting at the feet of wise Christian authors, I gleaned creative counsel and course correction. Valerie Bell visited in 1995 with her book, Getting Out of Your Kids' Faces and Into Their Hearts. She reminded me that I do more than make memories with my children - I AM THE MEMORY! Those four words helped to catapult me out of the Crossroads studio to be a fulltime homemaker and Mom to my preschoolers. One of our viewers sent in a recording with devastating lyrics about "offices and telephones... little ones who can't find their way alone...who will lead the children to Your throne?" There's no higher calling than to be a godly Mom. "She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." (Proverbs 31:26 NASB ) Well... not every day!
Broadcasting went on the back burner for 12 years, but I still struggled with the main focus. When Katherine could print, she often delivered notes like the one below to her Mom, who was on the phone. (I need your heeeeeeeeeeeeelp!) The words of my now 21 year old daughter, (on the right) affirm progress in this parent! ("Dear Mom, I am so grateful to have you as my mom. You are always there when I need you.")
"Engaging" our teenage son was easier for my husband than for me. Xbox was serious competition for what seemed like years! BUT GOD is the perfect parent - always on the job. Look at these fresh precious words from my 20-year-old Davy:
"Growing up I have lived in a loving home. Fighting parents or getting yelled at, just did not happen in our family. Unfortunately, many kids cannot say the same thing. I thank my parents for being such great role models as it has made me both emotionally and spiritually strong."
Modeling is the most important thing parents provide.
We recently spent a wonderful week of vacation together, and both children will be working from home this summer. Conversations are opening up at dinner and going to such meaningful places that I'm having culinary inspirations! This could be a season of cracking open cookbooks!
Despite its fight for survival, there is so much potential at the family meal table. One U.S. study found that even when all of the family members were present, only 17% actually sat down together; each one took a meal to their separate screen or technological companion of choice! Years ago, I listened to a recording of young people who were reflecting on their teen years. All of them wished they had talked more to their parents about issues they were facing. The answers their peers provided were not satisfying. Our desperate-to-be-independent children don't always send clear signals, do they?
A fundamental truth has accompanied my parenting journey - which my husband Richard says is the greatest adventure - and it comes from Mike Yorkey, former editor of Focus on the Family magazine. He and Greg Johnson interviewed hundreds of parents whose grown children were lovingly connected to their family and actively serving God. Faithful Parents, Faithful Kids was released in 1993. In our interview, the authors distilled their findings to a simple dart target. The outer circle - behaviour - is what we typically look to in measuring the success of our parenting efforts. The teen years can produce alarming surprises here. The inner ring - spiritual life - can have wilderness wanderings or no signs of life at all, causing much distress too. But the bull's eye, the power tool that keeps the door open to unconditional love and Godly investment into a maturing soul is... relationship. Don't allow upsets in your child's behaviour or spiritual life - the outer rings, to rob you of this vital connection. Dad and Mom, you are needed!
Belonging is our first felt need. In God's Forever Family , our belonging is not performance-based. Your position was secured when you received the gift of eternal life. As His child, you have been "sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30) by King Jesus, who paid the price for all of your sin. Whatever your spiritual condition, you are "loved with an everlasting love." (Jeremiah 31:3)
God's Family Portrait is richly reflected in Psalm 112, which begins, How joyful are those who fear the LORD and delight in obeying His commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.