Sunday night I gathered with a group of JCPC parents to discuss the task of parenting. It was a fabulous discussion. We all agreed that parenting is a long journey, sometimes on a road that is flat and smooth, but also one that is often rocky and uphill. At times, we don't always see the destination or even feel like we are making progress. We get tired and fearful and might even feel overwhelmed and lack resolve in trying circumstances. Parenting is not for wimps. That's for sure.
In all my 22 years of youth pastoring and in my 21 years of parenting, I've discovered that not only do our kids need hugs, but our parents do too. I've discovered that parenting teenagers can be a lonely, thankless job. I've discovered that some parents are carrying some excess baggage. I've discovered that parents sometimes feel alone in their failures. And I've discovered that while being a parent is tough work, it can also be the richest, most rewarding calling on our lives.
I once heard from an esteemed pastoral counselor (NK) that for every one word of criticism, we need to provide five words of affirmation and encouragement toward our teens and pre-teens to help them be healthy and whole. I'm not sure I've lived up to that standard, but I know they are words of great wisdom.
But I also know that parents need encouragement too. We are in this thing together. As I head off on the Confirmation Retreat tomorrow with a slew of fresh-faced, energetic middle schoolers, I know it's a sacred calling to raise our kids in the faith. There is no greater challenge. There is no greater joy. Have you hugged a parent today? Have you hugged a kid today? Hey, we all need them!
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity. -1 Timothy 4:12
Prayer for Today
O God, today we lift up our families, especially those who need hugs and encouragement right now. Amen.