The Joys and hope of parenting
Easter is always special. Every “Alleluia” we sing to celebrate the risen Christ, comes with so much hope. When life seemed hopeless and all seemed lost, Jesus arose and with that millions of people all over the world were given the promise of Easter and a message of hope. The hope for eternity and for life itself as we navigate life’s challenges. There is joy, and hope for eternity and the promise to never give up. Last week, we talked about when parenting his hard, but despite the pain we sometimes face as parents, there is joy and hope for a better tomorrow always.
1. The joy of parenting.
When I did obstetrics as a medical student, I must confess I did not enjoy delivering babies until the time when the baby actually arrived. It was such a pleasure to see the mom who had been screaming a few minutes ago, look at this precious being, and in an instant all the pain is forgotten. It always gave me chills. Childbirth is a miracle. That’s where the joy of parenting starts. That wonderful, crying baby in your arms, makes all the pain worthwhile. The blessings keep multiplying when your baby smiles at you for the first time, and then they start cooing and crawling and walking. There is so much pleasure and joy in those first few years and then the teenage years arrive!
2. The joy of parenting teens
Parenting a teen is challenging but should also be joy-filled. Think of the joy you experience when your child excels in school and gives you “bragging rights.” Remember the fun we have when we cheer our teens on during sporting activities. the surprise that fills us when our teens advise us we are behaving like children ourselves and then hold us accountable when we do. We take a step back and realize wow, they have been listening to us after all. They are actually holding us accountable to the very words of wisdom we taught them. We thought those words fell on deaf ears. Think of your teens overcoming challenges in school or disputes with their friends. They cry and get upset, they are sometimes rude and insensitive to us, but ultimately common sense prevails and we see glimpses of the wonderful adult beings they are slowly becoming. Yes, the teenage years can be challenging but we can decide to see the positives in every situation, and make them joy-filled as well.
3. The joy of Reconciliation
Sometimes, your relationship with your teen can go awry and you the parent may feel like you were a total failure. Human beings tend to be very hard on themselves and judge themselves more harshly than they would anybody else. Remember it is never over till you decide that it’s over. Let go the bitterness, the anger, pain and disappointment and reach out for reconciliation. Take a step back and think of your Easter blessings. We believe that Jesus came and died for us, but we have not stopped sinning, at least I haven’t. We keep making mistakes. If we adults who should know better keep making mistakes, and expect our sins to be forgiven, how can we not forgive our teens when they offend us. It certainly will not be the last time. As parents we should focus on the joy that comes when we forgive our teens for the mistakes they will invariably make. If you are able to move beyond the lapse in judgement or error they made, and forgive and reconcile with them, this makes for a much stronger relationship.
4. The joy of looking back
One of the best joys a parent can experience is to see your child grown and looking back and thanking you for a job well done. It gives me so much pleasure to see the joy on a parent’s face when their kids recount the difficulties they’ve come through and how it made them who they are today. Parents sit with their friends and talk about their children’s achievements. Think about it, the greatest joy is when the child who gave you the most problems makes a complete turn around and excels. When you look back you realize all the challenges, the sleepless nights and the tears were all worth it. We the parents and our teens all grew up in the process. We learned to make hard decisions and taught our teens about responsibility and faith and we watched our teens grow up to be the dynamic adults that everyone now admires. Parents smile as they look back with joy, remembering those tough times and they quietly say a prayer of gratitude to themselves.
Parenting a child is a privilege and responsibility that should not be taken lightly. It is often filled with many difficulties and misunderstandings. There can be heartache and lots of sleepless nights but the joys of parenting far outweigh any challenges that one faces. In those difficult times when you feel like giving up, remember the sweetness of a kiss from your toddler, the trusting look of your young child when you first taught them to ride a bike or swim. The look of uncertainty, fear and bravery all mixed up in one when your child first went to school or to college or even when they first left your home as little adults. And then comes the joy of looking back and seeing this wonderful being you helped mold. When parenting is toughest, remember the Easter message. When all seemed lost and it appeared that it was all over, the resurrection gives us hope. Hope for today, hope for tomorrow and hope for eternity and as parents we should never give up on the hope of a better tomorrow for our teens.