I was standing in the hallway of a church in Indianapolis. I was in my late thirties, it wasn’t long after the birth of our fifth child, and I was talking with an older brother in the Lord. “How are things with you, Quigley?” came the question. “They’re good, but having five kids is demanding,” was my heartfelt response. He took me by my jacket lapels, he’s a converted New York City Jew, shook me backwards and forwards, and said, “Quigley, it will only get harder – wait till they are teenagers and then older.”
That was ten or eleven years ago, we’ve since had another child and what he said was true. Things were easier when you could just speak, and they would trot after you in Pied Piper fashion. In those days we were able to travel across the USA, having mastered the art of packing up in 20 or 30 minutes and then setting off. There weren’t the range of issues that come with the teenager who needs to find themselves in a process that inevitably affects everyone in the family. Everybody had their role and their responsibilities. Yes, there was room for personality and diversity, but it was generally managed within acceptable boundary levels. Things were different, but then that’s because they are supposed to change. Babies are supposed to become infants, infants do become toddlers, toddlers develop into children, children do grow up to be young people, young people do morph into teenagers, and teenagers are supposed to become adults, and along the way there are issues to be addressed and lessons to be learned.
Being a parent isn’t easy. Don’t we all wish that we could have ‘that day’ back again to relive it, or change when we said during ‘that conversation’. Of course we do. But don’t look back on the ‘what if’s’. What’s the point? Set your face today to love your child (which sometimes may involve a path of painful discipline). Lead them in the worship of God each day. Pray to God that He would convert them if there are few signs of grace in their lives. Enjoy them as they grow up and become people in their own right. Above all, when they do give evidence of being born again, take time to encourage them individually in their walk with and love for Christ. Don’t take it for granted, their new life in Christ is a wonderful and a blessed reality, be sure to delight in it with them. In time they will forgive you for your evident failures and they will be thankful for the honest efforts you made to love and nurture them.