It might be the anguish of attempting to potty train a stubborn two year old, or it might be the weird pregnancy cravings for pineapple slushies when its thirty degrees outside, but I’ve had the enormous subject of parenting on the brain lately. It doesn’t matter what anyone could have told me, warned me, or coached me about parenting…the plain fact is, I had no idea what I was getting into before that first little girl of mine showed up. Have you ever noticed the only people who are experts at parenting are the ones who either don’t have any, or those who have had theirs so long ago they conveniently don’t recall half the things their kids did. Anybody who gets up every morning to face the day’s battles with a bewilderingly active, cantankerous and mischievous child or a mysteriously complex teenager will be the last person to claim expert status. I’m convinced sometimes that God gave me my children just to show me how absolutely un-wonderful I really am. Give a blue eyed, thirty pound, thumb sucking little ball of cuteness forty-five minutes tops, and she’ll give you ample opportunity to flip your lid…be publicly embarrassed…dishevel your personal appearance thoroughly… find yourself perfectly baffled as to what to do next…or all of the above plus some.
That said, there are two mothers mentioned in the Bible that I find completely intriguing…if anybody knew what they were doing while parenting, it was them. The first one’s name was Hannah who had a little boy named Samuel. The second one’s name was Jochebed, and she had a little boy named Moses. Both ladies gave their sons away to be raised by someone else after the boys were weaned. ( I won’t go into the whole story of why they did that here, but you can read it for yourself in Samuel 1 and Exodus 1&2 ) I’m no history expert, but from what I’ve read, the age a child was weaned back then was around three or four years old. Lets just be generous, and call it four years old for the sake of discussion. These ladies each had four years to impact their child before their influence was over. Incidentally those two boys both grew up to be extremely influential men and very important in Jewish history. You don’t have to be a Bible buff to have heard of the ten commandment right? Moses is responsible for getting those, and Samuel was no small shot either.
Obviously, God had a lot to do with those two men’s lives and the things they did…but you can’t pursued me that their mothers didn’t have something to do with it either. Somehow in four years time those ladies managed to set those little minds on the right track, and to imprint on those little hearts an understanding (however small it was) of God. It’s a thought worth considering before tossing a toddler aside as just a baby who isn’t capable of learning anything besides her ABC’s. I would argue that it is never too early to start training the hearts and minds under our care to know God and to do right. Good character isn’t just going to ooze into them from cartoons, the ipad, or endless, mindless hours with toys…it’s going to take our time, attention, hard work, and most importantly, our example. Unfortunately, we spend more time planing birthday parties, outings, and outfits for our kids than we spend on actually training them to be upstanding adults. We are a society crazily obsessed with making our children happy. Should that really be the goal, the measure of being a good parent? I would argue, no. Happiness will be a natural byproduct of a healthy mind and soul, and those ought to be our focus. Kids are such a big responsibility, but they aren’t ours to keep (that’s the idea anyway). Someday they’ll walk away, and we’ll be lucky to get a phone call once a week (oops, sorry mom!). It’s a poor future we’ll have created if there is nothing more substantial stuck in their heads than just the ability to have fun and please themselves.
What if we only had four years? Would our kid turn out to be a Moses or a Samuel? A child learns to express themselves, feed themselves, dress themselves, amuse themselves, and go to the bathroom in the first four years…why shouldn’t they also begin to learn the things that make for a healthy heart and mind as well? Most of us will be blessed with a lot more than just four years to impact our children, but just imagine if four years was all you were given. Have I done the best I can with the time I’ve had? Maybe, maybe not, but now is always a good time to start!
Psalms 127:4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.