devozine

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Parents & Kids

Craig Mitchell

Mitchell family2Being a parent is a wonderful and terrifying experience. You start with a blip on an ultrasound screen and end up with an adult, hugging you goodbye. In between are high hopes, improbable dreams, hard reality, immense pride, and deep heartache. We’ve been parents now for twenty-three years. I asked our daughters some questions. Here’s what they said and how I responded.


Q: What are your parents’ dreams for you?

A: I think my parents dreamed that I would be happy, healthy, supported by loving people around me, doing meaningful work, and living a life that seeks to follow Jesus. I try to live into my parents’ dreams because they mirror my own values.

Parents want the best for their kids, but we’re not always sure what the best is. We battle the media message that our kids can succeed at anything. (Watch Saturday Night Live’s “You Can Do Anything!”) That’s simply a lie. There is only one gold medal, one “top of the class.” We want you to do well in life, but ultimately we want you to be happy and healthy and to know you are loved by God.

devozine Family Fun TS 78622003-1


Q: What expectations do your parents have for you?

A: They expect me to make an effort to treat others with love and respect and to be invested in growing as a person. They also expect me to strive toward independence and a promising career path that engages my strengths.

Parenting is about expectations and acceptance. We can’t help having hopes for your life. What gifts and talents will you develop? What choices will you make? What values will you hold dear? Parenting is a balance between expectations and acceptance. Expectations often have conditions. Love ultimately has no conditions.


Q: What do you expect from your parents?

A: Sometimes, I see my parents as pillars of wisdom and strength who are rational and selfless, always striving to be like Christ. At other times, I see them as human beings and peers, with their own gifts and flaws, their own messy peculiarities—just like me.

Parents are human too. We try to set a good example but fear we are failing. We know our flaws and would rather not show them to our kids; but habit, weariness, and imperfection get the better of us. We long to be better examples and often wish that someone would show us how to be better parents.


devozine Talking with Parents TS 78631212Q: What happens when we try to discuss these things?

A: We all love each other and try not to make each other crazy. Perhaps we should talk more. None of us are comfortable being vulnerable, but we’re getting there.

Communication is the secret to good relationships. Family life can be wonderful and terrible. The ways we express feelings of joy, sadness, love, rage, disappointment, and hope make all the difference. Good communication takes hard work. No family can survive without the support of a wider group of family and friends to whom they can go when it all gets to be too much.


REMEMBER:

  • God loves us through and despite our families.
  • God’s hopes for us are richer and deeper than we or our parents can imagine.
  • God’s grace is unrelenting and unconditional, far beyond the limits of parental love.
  • Our future is unknown to us, but we can be certain that God will be in it.

 

DIG DEEPER

What hopes did Mary and Joseph have for their child who was soon to be born? How did believing that he was God’s gift shape their expectations? Imagine the sense of responsibility they must have felt. Imagine their prayers for guidance and wisdom as earthly parents of God’s son.

Now imagine God as a heavenly parent, looking on your life with wonder, anticipation, and hope. Take a moment to listen to “When God Made Me” by Neil Young. What was God thinking when God created you? What are God’s dreams for you?

Craig Mitchell is a parent of three young adult women, including twins who as children were nicknamed “Search” and “Destroy.” A veteran youth minister, Craig now teaches at Uniting College and Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia.

—from devozine (November/December 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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