Like many of you, I believe that one of the greatest gifts God has given me is my children. I have four -- three girls and one boy -- and each are very special to me.
As those of you who are parents know, raising children can be a rather humbling -- and tiring -- task. Even so, it has by far been a very rewarding experience. In fact, out of all the roles I have been asked to fill in this life, being a husband and father are the most fulfilling. One of the things about raising kids that I didn't expect was when my children went from wanting to be around me all the time to being somewhat distant and wanting to "do their own thing." In fact, I have always found this transition rather hard to handle. I asked myself more than once what I had done to initiate this change. "Why," I wondered, "are they choosing to spend their time with others instead of with dear old dad?
After our oldest daughter went through this change, with number two close on her heals, I started to realize this transition is just part of growing up. And, like it or not, our children do grow up. That's what makes it so important for us to make the best of the time we have with them -- something I am admittedly not always good at. Hopefully, during the time we do have, we can teach them the values they will need to be successful in the future. Scripturally, we are advised to raise our children in the "fear and admonition" of the Lord. That means we are to do our best to teach them the ways of God and to make sure they have a firm foundation of faith, integrity and character to fall back on when they face difficulties, trials and temptations.
Some say we have an average of 18 years to accomplish this task. I say the cut-off is earlier than that. They may be in our homes until they are 18, but chances are they stop listening long before that.
Another truth we must face when watching our kids become young adults is that though they are our children, once they reach adulthood they will be required to answer to God for the choices they make.
Our oldest daughter is in Arizona dealing with tourists on a day-to-day basis. You would not believe how big of a transition that was for me. Daughter number two is away at college, as is their younger sister. They are missed.
But instead of worrying needlessly about them or prying too much into their lives in a way only fathers can, I choose to pray for them. I know that -- with the help of the Holy Spirit, their mother, and other believers they have known -- they have received good instruction and guidance for their lives, and I have to trust God with them, just as I have all of their lives. As believers, we should all take comfort in knowing that God covers and protects our children.
Our son, a junior in high school, is still at home and growing into a quite a young man. I am sure that he and his sisters may very well do things I do not understand and may even disagree with. But I am trying to learn not to speak negatively about whatever the situation may be. In addition, I am trying to get back into the habit of speaking the Word of God over them and their choices. I've heard others say that when the Word is spoken over our children, it will accomplish what God wants in their lives. And that is a promise I can cling to.