A Dad’s Journey (A Parent in Process): Part 2
A while ago I watched as my son chased a ball he missed while we were playing catch. I cried out to watch for cars–too late. He was in the street as a Mercedes SUV came to a stop. He didn’t see the SUV until he had the ball. He froze, I couldn’t breath, life stood still. The whole thing happened in slow motion for me.
We lost interest in playing catch, it was getting late anyhow. When he was in bed that night, I came in and knelt down at his bedside. I started to talk with him about what had happened. Instead I laid my head on his bed and lost it. I cried and shook the bed. He became still and silent as he watched his dad express emotion at the thought of injury or worse–a parent’s worst nightmare. I can’t imagine how parents survive losing a child.
But he was fine and in his own bed. Tears of gratitude to God and exhaustion came in a torrent. Raising children is not for cowards.
Nothing has surfaced insecurities and emotions inside of me like raising a child. The recent adolescent years have magnified my need for the Lord to help me as a dad. I am a parent in process. I have laughed and been proud, protected my boy and at other times, I have been hopping mad at him. It’s been a process of ups and down and learning for both my son and I. Here are a few valuable lessons I have learned as a dad:
– Exhort, encourage and compliment. Recently I am focusing on softer eyes and intentionally complimenting my son. I am a focused man. I can transfer unreal expectations on my son by default. I have made the mistake of causing my son to feel he should know better, when genuinely he does not. He’s a kid and there are life experiences he is yet to grapple with.
Somewhere in me there is this default reaction I have that makes him feel he should already know how to deal with things. Guess what…he agrees with me because dad is right so he begins to wonder, “what’s wrong with me?” I have caught onto it and it scares me. So exhorting, encouraging and complementing is needed more than ever.
I am making up for lost time. Bethany has been so good to help me discover this blind spot I have. It is never too late to correct the way we parent. I have asked the Lord to unmask areas of woundedness in me that affect my fathering. This is a result of our God’s goodness to help men, like me, father our kids while diminishing our own baggage. This is not for lightweights. I am pretty familiar with the big ‘D’….Denial. God will surface the stuff and our wives have an uncanny way of seconding God’s voice! Amazing tag team our wives and our God is for us! Pay attention fellas.
– Keep your priorities straight. Houses, jobs and stuff come and go. We will have our son for only a few more years. Then we shift from authority to advisor in my son’s life. What is the priority? Don’t let it be your stuff.
– Dig for essential truth. Not long ago I asked my son how he felt about a situation. He answered the way we all do at times, he answered from his head. He told me what he thought with some of what he thought I wanted to hear as well. I asked again, “How do you feel about that?” The answer came slower as he went downstairs to his heart to find the answer. Then it came, with a different conclusion. His heart was telling him something different than his head.
If our kids have a clean conscience, they will answer from their heart, if we take them there. Keep truth essential, then heart answers will be much easier to access because the heart is not in hiding. It’s here that hearing God is possible because He is truth. A clear conscience concerts with truth. How is your conscience, dear parent? You cannot take your child where you are unwilling to go yourself.
– Invite your kids into your journey with God. Let your kids hear how God has spoken to you. It is so cool to have this as a normal way of life in the home. It catches our son’s attention when we share what God does in a tangible way.
This year our van died. I was thrown into finding a car with the goal of not getting into debt. My wife Bethany heard in prayer that the Lord would bring the car to us, so I stopped car shopping. Within days we got a phone call from a couple who had their car for sale. They said they would bring the car to us and we could keep it as long as needed to know if we wanted it or not. I hung up the phone and said to my wife in a tone of amazement ‘and honey, they are bringing it to us.’
This was exciting to us all and our son watched this happen. We bought the car and my son now has his own heated seat! God wants to show our kids that He will take care of us and them when they step out on their own. Listen, obey, be blessed–a great theme for every home!
I believe if it were not for God’s involvement, my days of being a parent may have easily ended by now. In our shortcomings God can use us to be what our kids need. Our place in this is to call on God to be a parent where we fall short. He does it with such mastery.
There is no mistake with the temperament and type of child God placed in your home and in your care. Cry out to God for your children. Ask for wisdom and get ready to respond to His answer. If you are casual in this, you won’t get the job done and you need to, for your child’s sake.
This final thought is huge. And it is incredibly overlooked. Pray in the Holy Spirit for your children. This unfathomable privilege is God breathed. With our voice and the Holy Spirit’s words we are praying the will of God for our children. God, who sees all, is praying through us His destiny and purpose, present and future for our kids. Lets learn to ask what He is saying as He prays through us. Now that is being up close and personal with our Savior and His involvement in our childrens lives. It’s all a part of a dad’s journey and being a parent in process!