It gets worse when you decide that you care about this little human that you have been entrusted with. They look to you with ultimate trust and reliance. Your word is your bond, and it will come under fire again and again as you guide them in this arena filled with joy, heartache, wins, and losses.
As they grow, there are first many celebrations. Their first steps, first words, and first day at kindergarten are endearing and precious. Then, before you even can catch your breath from the exhaustion of rearing young children, you suddenly realize that they aren’t just some random kids that dropped by for a few years to eat your food; these kids are sprouting versions of you; for better or for worse! They are becoming free thinkers, and exhibiting a mind that is uniquely their own. This is also something to celebrate, but the serious potential consequences of choice begin to emerge.
Then sets in the deeper, more meaningful, and thought-provoking conversations about topics that can affect them for their entire life: sex, drugs, the opposite sex, handing conflict, doing well in school, getting a job, and many other life concerns and situations. If you’re a Christian, the most important topic of all will also be introduced: What God has to say about it all.
How each of these things is received is heavily dependent on not only your relationship with that child, but also their values that haven’t just been shaped by you, but teachers, community leaders, neighbors, friends, and all that social media and other sources bombard them with on a daily basis. It can feel like you are literally fighting to ensure their success and happiness. Often it feels as if they are standing squarely in the way of their own joy, and it can make a parent feel rather helpless.
Through all of this, you realize that you didn’t raise a robot. You raised a son or daughter, and they are now forging their own way, and all you can hope is that what you said and continue to say is absorbed at least 5% of the time. Don’t forget: you are competing with a lot of other voices, and you can get drowned out rather quickly.
This trial for earthly parents is not unlike the one endured by our Heavenly Father. He said we were created in His image, and he wasn’t kidding. Here we are saying the same things about our children that he must say every day:
“Why won’t they just listen to me?”
“Don’t they know nothing good will come of that?”
“I thought I taught them better than this.”
“I’m pretty sure I warned them this would happen.”
The great thing about God, and what makes Him the Perfect Parent, is that He is so amazingly patient with us. Where we might literally throw up our hands and say “I’ve had enough!”, He will never do so. God is so beautifully flawless in His parenting, that He willingly allows us to hurt Him by ignoring his wishes, warnings, and guidance. He patiently waits for us to return to Him when we have strayed away from His teachings. This is the beauty, and the beast that is free will. Bad things happen to us, even with God as our Father. Bad things happen to your child no matter how much you’ve tried to steer them away from it. Just like your child is not a robot, neither are you in God’s eyes. He wants the best for us, but ultimately He wants you choose the right path: The path to Him. Our first, best choice as earthly parents is to point them to our Heavenly one.
Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.