Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The 24/7 Eighteen Year Marathon

- Kristin on her dedication day, 1978 -
I remember bringing our firstborn home from the hospital almost 34 years ago.  Quietly and tentatively, her father gently placed the car seat that cradled our oh-so-precious treasure on the sofa.  We gazed with awestruck adoration at our little one.  And then looked at each other, rather overwhelmed and completely clueless. 

With some hesitancy, I took a deep breath and asked the brand new daddy the deeply profound question that I would utter thousands of times in the next couple of decades as we raised two daughters.

"NOW what do we do?"

It all seems like eons ago.  Young, and rather isolated from other moms my age, I didn't recognize that I parented with an introverted heart.   Except for James Dobson, there were few Christ-centered parenting resources to be found.  My mom came along from time to time with her gentle wisdom.  But otherwise, we were left on our own to figure out this whole parenting thing.

Together we muddled our way along, making more than our fair share of boneheaded mistakes and stupid errors in judgement.  We simply parented the best we could with what we had, one day at a time. 

And we introduced our girls to Jesus very early.  The affirmation "that makes Jesus happy" seemed to flow naturally from somewhere deep within my soul, and was spoken often to affirm good behavior, kind words, and wise choices. 

I couldn't have possibly articulated back then what I know now.  That effective parenting has little to do with 'dear God, help me make it til bedtime.'  That it's all about a 24/7 eighteen year marathon.  Exhausting, rewarding, frustrating, joyful, scary, and exhilarating.  And that this seemingly endless journey calls forth the absolute best, and worst, of who we really are at the center of our beings.

And yes, there are attainable goals to the marathon ... that might never be realized.  There are no guarantees, no 1+1=2 equation that brings success.  When all is said and done, all we can do is parent well, and pray fervently that our children will choose to follow Christ.  And that the season will arrive where they will become adults of godly character and integrity. 

With the strength that God supplies and we so desperately need, we are able to model the fruit of the Spirit {Galatians 5:22-23}.  Get to fully appreciate and continually affirm to our children how they've been uniquely shaped and gifted by their Creator {Proverbs 22:6}.  Gently, firmly, and consistently, mold and shape their wills without breaking their spirits {Deuteronomy 11:19}.  And verbally bless them day in and day out, holding up in front of them the vision of all that they can be in Jesus Christ.

As a counselor, I've found John Rosemond's resources to be spot-on ... and have had more than one client tell me that his advice has become a parenting lifeline.  His back-to-the-basics, no-nonsense philosophy resonates for many who are weary of our child-centered culture and tired of the psycho-babble that's accompanied it.  In a recent newsletter, he highlighted some basics that he believes reflect Truly Terrific Kids and Truly Terrific Parenting.  He maintains that this child ...

1. Eats whatever foods he is served, without complaint.

2. Does his homework without being told, does at least 90 percent without asking for help, and does his best in school.

3. Looks an adult in the face when spoken to and responds appropriately.

4. Asks for something by saying “Please.”

5. Receives something by saying “Thank you.”

6. Declines something by saying “No, thank you.”

7. Addresses adults as Mr., Miss, or Mrs. as opposed to using their first names.

8. Obeys classroom and playground rules at all times.

9. Neither creates nor participates in conflicts with or between peers.

10. Knows not to enter an elevator until everyone who so desires has exited.

11. Does not use a cell phone, for talking or texting, in social situations.

12. Goes to bed, in his own bed, without complaint and goes quickly off to sleep.

13. Does not often create or participate in sibling conflict (If an only child, this point is automatically earned).

14. Accepts responsibility when confronted with misdeeds.

15. Does not interrupt adult conversations, including phone conversations.

There's a few strongly pivotal threads that run through this list.  Appreciation for others.  A strong work ethic.  Owning responsibility.  Respect for authority.

So if you're in the midst of this high and holy calling {for that's what parenthood is really all about}, take heart. Keep your eye on the goal ... the caliber of person that God desires that little one to be at age 18. 25. And 30.  Don't become weary in doing the right thing {Galatians 6:9}.  Be strong and don't cave in to their endless demands that life must be on their terms.  And refuse to throw up your hands in frustration.

Our final task in the marathon is to release them to live their lives as they reach adulthood.  And they get to choose what they'll do with all that was modeled and taught along the way.  Sadly, there are no guarantees that our children will make right choices.  And, yes, we might need to do some heavy duty soul searching and humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness for mistakes that we made along the way.

But in the end, God is able to bless us with the fruit of peace, knowing that with His help, we did the best we could with what we had at the time.  We are all still works in progress in this marathon called life.  The Holy Spirit isn't finished with any of us.  Yet. 

=  sharing my family with Beth's community  =


  1. ... beautiful and challenging and awe-inspiring ... wonderfully and thankfully written. Just remember, you still have a good many years to still "mother" {your daughters} and their dear children - our "job" never, never ends!!!!!

  2. You're right, the 'job' never ends, but it sure is lots of fun in this season! I am blessed that my daughters are now my friends, too. And I hope, someday, to grow up to be just like them!

    Thanks for those very special words of affirmation today!

  3. I'm certain that I have not taught my sons all of these very important practices, Linda. It's a great list and I'm going to print it out and discuss this with them at dinner tonight. They may be 17 and 19 (my oldest, 23, is away at school), but I'm hoping it's not too late to instruct! :) I'll have to check out John's resources too. They sound very helpful! I appreciate how many great resources you let us know about, my friend, and always love having your linkup at Wedded Wed. Hugs to you!

    1. I can't wait to hear about your dinner time conversation! Really! Keep me posted, dear friend ...



Welcome to the table, friend!

This is where we gather and hang out. I'd love for you to pull up a chair and jump right into the conversation. Or simply say 'hello.'

l'll be dropping in to visit you sometime soon ...


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