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Thomas the Tank

Parenting is tough!  There is no operations manual, installation instructions, or quick start card for raising children.  When your child goes through a phase, there is no script to follow.  For all the books that are out there telling you what you should do, there is no formula.

If that weren’t enough, to make it even more of a challenge, each child is completely different.  Each of your children has their own personality that you get to adjust your parenting style to.  What works for one, won’t necessarily work for the other.

I’m a “continuous improvement” guy.  At work, I like to draw up flow diagrams to map out a work process.  Do step one, two, and three to get a certain result.  There’s always cause and effect right?  Often the trap is set before me as a parent to apply that same thinking to what we did wrong, or how we could have done it differently.  This does not work!

So what do you do when things go off the rails?  When your child grows up and begins to make their own decisions, I’m learning this is a very delicate place to exist.  This is particularly difficult when they are making decisions that you know are not wise and even potentially harmful.  Here are a few things that my wife and I are learning:

  • Get out of the way.  The Lord is speaking to my child, and I need to be quiet so he can hear His voice and not mine.
  • Pray.  Because there are no instructions, I am constantly faced with a new challenge that I can even wrap my brain around.  Proverbs say to ask the Lord for wisdom and he will give it.
  • Forgive.  Cut yourself some slack.  Have I made mistakes?  Absolutely!   I’m a parent and I’m doing the toughest job on the planet without instructions.  We’ve all been given this beautiful gift called “free will” and this is true for my kids. They have the ability to choose a path of righteousness or sin. (see first bullet point)
  • Share.  Know that you aren’t alone.  Social media would have you believe that everyone’s life is perfect (rainbows and lolly pops).  Well it’s not!  We have a great support group of friends, that are encouraging and praying for our family. (see second bullet point)  It takes courage to be vulnerable, but those that love you won’t judge, they help carry the burden.
  • Stick Together.  I think it was some kid that came up with the battle cry “divide and conquer”.  Nothing in our 23 years of marriage has created more arguments then parenting decisions.  There are times it rocks the very core of our relationship, but through it all you can’t let it beat you.  When we stay united is when we are our very best as parent and spouse.

Feel free to add to this list by adding a comment below.