Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kirsten!

Today's our daughter's birthday. As far as we remember, it's her first one spent away from home. How we miss her across the miles! Kirsten is a lovely, hard-working gal with a lot of friends... many who are celebrating with her.

Some random thoughts on parenting, now that our kids are grown:
*When kids are little, they depend on their parents for food, clothes, and shelter. Their worldviews are shaped by Dad and Mom's responses to life. Even more basically, we depend on God for everything, and gratefully acknowledge our dependence and his care.

*A love of learning by parents produces children who are life-long learners. Curiosity is bred by reading widely and randomly to children, exposing them to languages, cultures, and ideas, and talking as a family about the world.

*A home should be the safest place to bounce ideas and attitudes around, while learning respect for authority and rules. Sharing prayers and scripture gives us confidence in God our Father. Hospitality teaches us that the world is bigger than our little circle: others have great thoughts and worthwhile work - whether or not we agree with them or understand them.

*Mannerisms transfer by association. Breaches of trust by parents or siblings can breed a suspicion of people. Offhand remarks may steer a child away from small things like vegetables or big things like people of other ethnicities.

*Children tend to thrive under consistent, Christian parenting that demonstrates how to handle conflict, challenges, and relationships. Knowing our folks love us and expect the best of us encourages high standards and achievement. Watching them follow Jesus helps us set priorities and obey his voice.

*Some parents go overboard, telling their kids they are special, wonderful, and extraordinary... for very ordinary things. Rather than expecting excellence, every little achievement is celebrated as a milestone. (Kindergarten graduation. Gold star for finishing a workbook. Certificate of "special recognition" for being a junior high student. A limousine and chauffeur to take a kid to the high school prom. Getting a new car for his/ her 16th birthday...) As these self-absorbed, spoiled kids grow up, others may not affirm them as gravity's center - and that can lead to all kinds of insecurities and rebellions. Marriage and work becomes hell when such competing egos collide without the skills to compromise or submit.

*We hope our children will be able to look back on lives well-lived in service to God and others. Friends of ours are attending their 50th high school reunion this summer. They'll see the outcomes of lifetimes of choices -- to live for self or under God's guidance. We all face challenges, but how we respond to them helps determine the direction of our lives.

So... today we wish our daughter well. We thank God for bringing this child into our home, for watching over her, and leading every step of the way. We pray a covering over her past, a shelter for her present, and great joy for her future. We'll always love you, babe.

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