By Cindy Koch –
Parents, you have a job. It was given to you the day God called you “mommy” or “daddy”. It doesn’t always begin as a well thought-out plan of action when you find yourself responsible for a small human life. But when you discover that God has chosen you to raise one of His little children, take a deep breath and get to work!
As the baby grows hidden away, it can be miserable, scary or totally joyful! Take care of yourself, and you will be feeding and nurturing the baby without even thinking. This is the best time in a woman’s life – because it is totally acceptable to put on weight for the well-being of the child! Uncomfortable as the baby grows? Good, she is just preparing you to step out of your comfort zone for a complete refocusing of your everyday life. When baby girl arrives, you will be prepared for her inevitable schedule changes and midnight feedings.
NEWBORN and INFANT
Completely helpless and fragile, this little one is designed to depend on his parents for everything. Food, sleep, comfort, warmth. You have been entrusted with his life; be there for him. It is a very exhausting season. It is so very tempting to give this job to another. Today, there are so many possible “circumstances” that rival the simple God-given honor of being his mom or dad. Make no mistake, he will love, trust, and need someone. God called you.
TWO and UP
This delightful period of a child’s life is when her personality really comes through. She will test every boundary you give her. So during this little trial of independence, introduce a baby spoonful of reality: the planet does not revolve around her. When she was only a year old, she still needed you for everything. Now it is essential you begin to teach her that she must wait, listen, help when asked, share, behave, and not be terrible. If you have been diligently by her side since birth, this might break your heart a little bit, to see your little sweet one struggle with her sinful self. You are God’s mouthpiece to her in a way she can understand; introducing her to her failures, but always forgiving her.
TWEEN & TEENAGERS
As they exchange their toy boxes for Xboxes, we parents can see the future exodus on the horizon. So much that we think these taller, awkward children are ready to be off on their own. He is completely sufficient at home: he can make his own meals, contribute to the family, even care for younger siblings. Yet, he is merely toddling out into the world beyond the home. Complex situations and interactions bombard these fledglings, and he should still find comfort and safety back in his home. You should be available just as often now, as ever. Questions about theology, relationships, ethics, friendships, etc. are beginning to form as he sees more of the outside world.
They are safely exploring the wide world, dipping their toes in the water. However, our job as parents now is to nudge these under-confident babes into adulthood. Just as they were taught to care for themselves in the home as children, now they are students of life outside the home. Job, faith, school, transportation, food, money: he should be testing how to live on his own, under the watch of his parents. God even blesses our relationships with strain; teens can be abrasive to parental authority. He longs to live by his own rules, and we remind him that day is coming.
Even though they have made it out of the house, we will still wonder and worry. Some of them will make good choices, others will live with the terrible mistakes they have made. You will find friendships with some of your children in their adulthood. You will struggle with the adult personalities of other children. No matter what age your kids are, they need to hear one thing from you. Remind them they are baptized, they are loved, they will never be outside of Christ’s forgiveness.