Laurie Gauger-Hested

Home congregation: St. Paul, New Ulm, Minn.

Family details: My husband, Michael, and I have a blended family: my two 20-somethings, Anna and Philip, and his preteen son, Sam.

Anna (23) is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in painting at Minneapolis College of Art & Design. Phil (21) is finishing his Bachelor of Music in theory/composition at St. Olaf College. Sam (11) plays whatever sport is in season plus piano and trombone. Reggie, our handsome bichon-poodle, offers sweet furry friendship to all.

My present parenting load is pretty light, actually. Anna and Phil are independent, living mostly at school. Sam already has two wonderful parents, so as his stepmom, I simply add to the love, offering whatever he needs, from clean sheets to cheers from the bleachers.

What are your parenting philosophies? God loves our kids even more than we do, and he guides and teaches them more effectively than we do. That’s liberating! And I’m pretty sure our kids grow up to be who God made them to be—sometimes because of our efforts, sometimes in spite of them. It’s our job to guide them but not to define them.

What portions of Scripture do you refer to most often as a parent? Reminders of God’s love for all of us, parents and children:

  • “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)
  • “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:16)
  • “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

What’s the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received? This is actually what a long-departed high school principal said about his students, but I think it applies to children in a family as well: “Treat them like adults, but don’t be surprised when they behave like children.”

On what parenting topic have you always wished you could find a good article? How to parent “old souls”—children who are more serious than playful.

Other thoughts you want to share with the column’s readers: It seems like a no-brainer, but all kids are different: They have different gifts. They mature at different rates. They make decisions using different parts of their brains. They need law and gospel in different measures. They reside at different places on the adventure continuum, some totally risk-averse, others adrenaline junkies from day one.

To me, this means one thing—and I have to remind myself of it constantly: Unless we’re trained family therapists, maybe we shouldn’t judge other parents or try to tell them how to do their jobs. Maybe we should just stick to sharing and encouraging and learning from each other.

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