What Have We Done?

Last week, my wife and I dropped off our oldest child at college. Actually, that’s not accurate… We dropped off her stuff. She took herself 450 miles away, and we drove a van load of her stuff to the school she’s been planning to attend since she was about 12.

Despite cheaper options…

Despite closer-to-me options…

We got everything set up in the dorm, met the suite-mates, attended a panel discussion meant to ease the minds of the parents of incoming students, gave her a hug & prayed, said goodbye… and she was off to orientation. After almost 19 years of feeding, loving, instructing, cajoling… and occasionally butting heads… as she walked away, I wondered, “What have we done? Was it enough? Did we get this whole parenting thing right?

I can easily slip into, “Oh, no, look at all the things I messed up!” mode, but I’ll keep that post in my head for now. (Actually, come to think of it, I’m probably better off just dumping that line of thought altogether!) Instead, I want to offer up a few things that I think we’ve done right, so far. Things that I think any parent can and should do in order to best prepare our kids for life…

  • We’re consistent. Our kids usually don’t have to guess where the boundaries are because we’re pretty clear about them. That doesn’t mean they like them all the time, but they’ve grown up knowing what we expect. The comfort of solid boundaries has been a huge blessing to them, I think.
  • We said “No.” when we needed to. There’s not enough time to do everything the world tells our kids they need to do. In our house, there’s not enough money to get all the things our kids want to get. More importantly, our kids have learned that the world will not (and should not) bow down to acquiesce to their every whim and fleeting desire. We’ve done our kids the greatest favor they hate by helping them understand that they don’t always get what they want.
  • We love each other deeply and give our marriage priority over just about everything else. My kids will never feel like they have to divide their loyalties between mom and dad. It’s a gift we decided to give them a terrifyingly long time ago, when we were about the age of our oldest two. We’re united and they have that unity to lean on whenever they need it. (They’re probably a little embarrassed by it from time to time as well, but… we make no apologies for that, and I can only hope that each of my kids finds someone they’ll still want to hold hands with 25 years after the first time – and counting.)
  • We love our kids and tell them so – even when they might not want to hear it. Our kids may wonder about a lot of things… but I hope they never have a doubt about whether they are loved.

Did we get this whole parenting thing right? Not entirely, I’m sure, but we’ve done what we could as faithfully as we could.

Was our parenting enough? Nope. Not even close. It would feel nice to say that we are enough for our kids, but the truth is, we fall short. Which is why I’m so grateful that God’s grace is enough when I am not.

What have we done? We’ve launched a beautiful, compassionate, Kingdom minded genius into a world that desperately needs to see God’s beauty, feel His compassion, and experience His Kingdom and the hope that He brings!

Honestly, she’s a pretty awesome kid and we’re so happy to have been entrusted with her. She was great raw material from the beginning (despite the dirty looks she gave people when she was a baby) – right out of the imagination of the Creator! She’s already jumping in with both feet in her new home (helped lead music at a new church yesterday and helps lead the first chapel at school tomorrow!) and we can’t wait to see what’s next…

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