Thursday, December 02, 2010

Parental Striving and Ceasing


And now for the parental musing of the moment. Now that Jada’s in kindergarten, I feel my innate ambition kicking in: wanting her to excel, kicking myself for not investing more time in her development, thinking I should rein that drive in, but then wondering if I accepting second-best by falling for the old “as long as they’re happy” nonsense.

Consider that in the facets that make up a child’s development – body (i.e. physical health), mind (i.e. intelligence), heart (i.e. compassion for others), spirit (i.e. matters of eternity), and guts (i.e. stick-to-itiveness and courage and toughness) – there are a number of overlapping influences. There is God, of course, Creator from the beginning and Guide throughout. There are the kid’s genes, which dictate some of her limitations and possibilities. There is the environment in which she grows up – home, school, friends, experiences. And there are her parents, and the extent to which they love and discipline and cajole and spoil and hug and instruct.

Parenting tests the bounds of one’s faith. For there is so much about our kids that matters to us, and yet very little we can have direct control over. As I alluded to above, my present wrestling is about whether “let go and let God” is just shorthand for copping out of my responsibilities as parent and guardian and protector and sharpener, and whether my scheming for the benefit of their development is out of a faithful stewardship or a God-dishonoring anxiety about a future that I don’t fully trust God is in control of.

Complicating matters is my own ambition (both good parts and sinful parts), the fact that our kids are adopted and therefore their genetics and traits are even more of a wild card to us, and the fact that our kids have special needs that make it difficult to make reasonable comparisons to other kids and to the usual developmental markers. I am not yet trusting enough to let these added levels of difficulty make for more room for God to be great, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be trusting enough in that regard.

But though I need to trust more, I do in fact trust. So even as I plot and plan and bark and command, I pray. Increasingly on my knees. For I want so much for my kids, so much more than I alone can give. So it is good to take all of that burden, all of that angst, all of that dreaming, and lay it at the feet of One far greater, who loves far deeper, and wants so much more, than even I as a good dad do.
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