No matter what age your children are, your role as a parent has changed over time. The first time we leave them with someone else as newborns can feel monumental. Then there’s that first day of school. First time they stay home alone. First time they drive away on their own after they get their license. The firsts go on and on. Each one pushes them a little further into independence. How do all those changes affect a parent’s role? Here are three perspectives.
It has been said, “Once a parent, always a parent.” This is true.
As soon as a baby enters into the world, the wild ride begins. That’s because parenting is a role in which God chooses who is along for the ride. Each family member is blessed with a unique set of gifts and challenges that adds to the experience.
In Malachi God tells us what is pleasing to him: to raise “godly offspring” (2:15). As Christian parents, our purpose is to reflect the full spectrum of God to our children. Honestly, this was exhausting at times, especially during the early years. But nightly bedtime prayers put things back into perspective. Oh, the tremendous blessings.
My husband and I moved from being Nurturers to Limit Setters (for safety). Add on Encouragers, Coaches, Referees, Problem Solvers, Counselors, and Financiers. We developed new skill sets as the needs came up. Spiritually, we grew exponentially. We consulted the Word more, we prayed more, we practiced more forgiveness. Growth took place in our marriage as we pulled together to raise the kids with a unified front. It wasn’t always easy, but when we fell down, we got up and just kept going.
A big challenge came when our last two (twins) of five went off to college. They were each two thousand miles away. Staying in touch was harder. Seeing them required planning and funding. The intense time of sharing their lives was over. We had not anticipated the empty-nest syndrome to be a synonym for a sort of grieving process as our parenting role had diminished for all our children. But then spouses were brought into the family, and more children came along. The Lord’s plans for the family are very good!
Now that we are grandparents, the reward is seeing our own children strive to parent our grandchildren. We pray anew that the torch of faith is being passed to the next generation!
Last summer, my daughter was almost killed. A semi driver, going about 60 mph, plowed into six cars stopped at a red light, my daughter’s car taking the brunt of it.
It’s a long story. Suffice it to say that thanks to talented doctors and a series of small supernatural events we Christians rightly call miracles, she survived. She can’t remember a thing, fortunately, so the only ones with PTSD are the rest of us who could do nothing but cry and pray, stare dumbly at doctors, and think about funeral hymns while she slept.
I’m only telling you this because it brought home a strange parenting phenomenon. My daughter became a toddler again. She came home, but she could hardly walk, and she needed every kind of care, day and night, for many weeks. My midday thoughts were mostly grateful: “Thank you, Jesus, for letting us do this for her.” My midnight thoughts were not so great: “O dear Lord. This is why you send us babies when we’re young.”
When you’ve launched your adult children, you don’t expect to get them back—until you do. Maybe it’s a job loss or crushing student debt that drives them home. Maybe it’s cancer, depression, chemical dependency. Maybe the people or institutions they trusted broke their hearts. Abuse. Infidelity. Divorce.
When the chaos of this sin-infected world comes crashing into their homes, they sometimes need to come back to yours. You thought you’d just figured out how to let go, to set boundaries, to be the family consultant instead of CEO, and then they ask you to be in charge of a few things again. It can be hard—but beautiful too.
So, to all of you who are parenting adult children for a little while, will you pray with me?
Fill us up, Jesus. We’re tired, angry, anxious. Push out all that darkness. Make our hearts warm and our faces happy. Make our arms strong and our words wise. And—even more important—hold our children close. Heal the brokenness. Straighten the crooked. Shine in the darkness. Love them, Lord—through us and in spite of us. Love them as only you can and help them launch again. Amen.
Among my grandfather roles, the top priority is leaving a legacy. A legacy of faith in Jesus.
A half century from now I want my grandchildren to describe to their grandchildren how Papa Aderman’s faith in Jesus continues to inspire them. I desire that the treasure I have found in God’s commitment to me is reflected in their lives and through them is reflected in the lives of the next generations of Adermans.
I pray that my family embraces—and improves upon—my dedication to God’s Word and prayer. I desire that they remember that I not only studied God’s Word and talked about it, but I also lived out my appreciation for his love. I even want them to recall that I regularly and obviously failed to live as God’s child and regularly and obviously rejoiced in my constant forgiveness.
I want my children and grandchildren to think back on how I celebrated their faith-words and faith-works, so they celebrate every time their children express their faith. I want my grandkids to explain to their children why I placed their baptism photos—not their birth photos—on my living room wall. I want them to tell their freshly confirmed children and grandchildren how grateful and proud I was the day they pledged lifelong faithfulness to Jesus.
I pray the legacy I leave will prompt my daughters, their spouses, and my ten grandkids to share their faith boldly in their families and well beyond.
Leaving this legacy is not a newly discovered parenting role. It’s always been my priority. Now that eternity is a much shorter distance away, it’s an even greater priority.
Author: Multiple Authors
Volume 110, Number 08
Issue: August 2023
- Parent conversations: How can parents and kids manage stress?
- Parent conversations: What do your prayers for your children include?
- Parent conversations: How do we resist making our parenting law-based?
- Parent conversations: What Bible passages do you turn to most as a parent?
- Parent conversations: How can we help kids develop positive, healthy habits?
- Parent conversations: What tactics do you use to encourage children to tackle difficult tasks?
- Parent conversations: How can we model good listening skills for our kids?
- Parent conversations: How do we help our kids move on from mistakes?
- Parent conversations: How can we instill gratitude in our children?
- Parent conversations: How can parents find the balance between being too restrictive and too permissive?
- Parent conversations: How can we teach kids to be good friends?
- Parent conversations: What life skills will help young people as they transition to adulthood?
- Parent conversations: How do we discuss death with our children?
- Parent conversations: What does it look like for a father to be a strong Christian leader?
- Parent conversations: How can we help young adults stay engaged in the church?
- Parent conversations: What do parents need to know about video games?
- Parent conversations: How do parents not let worry get the best of them?
- Parent conversations: How do we teach our kids to value all people?
- Parent conversations: When parenting philosophies differ
- Parent conversations: How can we help today’s overwhelmed teens?
- Parent conversations: How can parents maintain a healthy marriage?
- Parent conversations: You might be a Lutheran parent if . . .
- Parent conversations: Parenting post–high school: What is a parent’s role?
- Parent conversations: How can families use the hymnal in their worship life at home?
- Parent conversations: What should Christian parents teach their children about gender?
- Parent conversations: What is vocation? How does it apply to parenting?
- Parent conversations: Why do siblings fight? How should I react when they are fighting?
- Parent conversations: How do we teach children resilience?
- Parent conversations: How do I approach vaccines as a Christian parent?
- Parent conversations: How can I explain the Sixth Commandment to a young child?
- Parent conversations: How can I help my child have an optimistic outlook?
- Parent conversations: What if we can’t follow our Christmas traditions this year?
- Parent conversations: What are ways to foster a rich prayer life in children?
- Parent conversations: How can I let the gospel shine as I parent?
- Parent conversations: How should I handle a child’s separation anxiety?
- Parent conversations: How should families prepare to go back to school?
- Parent conversations: How does a teen’s brain work?
- Parent conversations: How much should I monitor my child online?
- Parent conversations: How can parents reassure children during an uncertain time?
- Parent conversations: How can I stay calm when my child is out of control?
- Parent conversations: Should I give something up for Lent?
- Parent conversations: How can I keep my child engaged in attending church?
- Parent conversations: How can we help a stressed-out kid?
- Parent conversations: How can we nurture a proper view of “stuff”?
- Parent conversations: How involved should parents be in a child’s homework?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: Are we modeling kindness for our children?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: What’s the best parenting advice you’ve received or given?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: How should we handle it when people undermine our parenting decisions?
- Parent conversations: How can we prepare children for summer camp?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: What’s a parent’s role as a child dates?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: How do parents find contentment?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: How can we help a family with a sick parent?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: How can parents model healthy cell phone use?
- Parent conversations: How can we protect kids without scaring them?
- Parent conversations: What does your family’s bedtime routine look like?
- Parent conversations: What do I need to consider before I give my child a cell phone?
- Parent conversations: How can we teach gentleness and strength at the same time?
- Parent conversations: What should we do when our children grow silent?
- Parent conversations: What should we teach our children about the Reformation?
- Parent conversations: How does a parent’s role change over time?
- Parent conversations: How should I handle a disagreement with my child’s teacher?