I recently had a conversation with a couple who were first-time parents. Their joy at finally having a child was not only evident, but encouraging!
Like most first-time parents they had lots of questions, one of which was: Which stage is best? From my vantage point, now having three teenagers, 15, 17 and two weeks shy of 19, it seems that just when I think, “This stage is so much fun, it can’t get any better,” it does. I’m not trying to imply parenting is always peaches and cream, each stage does have its challenges, but also its blessings. I remember holding my children and simply being entertained by the faces they would make while they were sleeping. Then there were their first words, first steps, training-wheels, and most recently a high school graduation.
Each season offers its own unique set of joys and trials. There are ways, however, to help insure the difficult times are more tolerable and the good times are genuinely good. I believe this starts by fostering communication from the earliest stages of our parenting: always being willing to talk with our children, giving them honest age appropriate answers, but it goes deeper than just talking when we need to, at the heart of the parent-child relationship is loving concern and genuine enjoyment—which I believe is also reflective of what God the Father desires in His relationship with us. It is this concern and joy which drives us beyond obligation and into fellowship.
We often think of fellowshipping with our church family, our friends at the gym, or at the club, but with our children? Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says it this way: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lordyour God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gate.Sitting at home, walking, resting—I would add bike rides, working in the garden or yard, throwing Frisbee, watching dance recitals, soccer games, and of course playing music, all of which provide opportunities for family fellowship, in essence simply doing life together.
We recently had a call from a reality-show wanting to know if we’d talk with them about a Family Band segment. I was pretty sure right from the start that the reality show thing was not for us, but it was worth a conversation to find out. And it came as a surprise to anyone in our home when our suspicions were validated. About half way though the conversation the interviewer asked, “Isn’t it weird for kids to write music with their dad?” Not, what is it like? Or, isn’t it cool? But, isn’t it weird? The pre-conceived notion that it is odd for a parent and child to work together—no matter the work, may be the world’s notion, but God has so much more for us; nurture, fellowship, rest. Whether it’s talking through ideas for a new song, a particular scripture during family devotions, or–something sure to increase the number of grey hairs on any parents head–teenage romance; even heavy things like why are our friends are getting divorced? When communication (fellowship) is a normal part of life together, though situations may be difficult, but they do not have to be awkward, or “weird” as the interviewer seemed to suggest. When living and parenting according to the instructions of Deuteronomy 6, I believe we best reflect the personality of God to our children, a God who does not push us away, but who has done everything in His power to draw us to Him, so that we might rest in His presence, and know the peace of His love.