Friday, March 18, 2011

Marathon Parenting

with Liz Sacks
As a working mother I have a tendency to forget that not all parenting is right now. I am so caught up in seeing my children at the end of the day that I focus on the instant gratification of seeing them, and not the investment that the parenting relationship presents.

Yes. I said it. My kids are an investment.

I invest in their character, their stability, their future, their knowledge, their ideas of right and wrong, their sense of self control, and their eventual adult responsibility.

They are not mine to control, to own, to be possessive of. Instead, I am their guide, their teacher, their caretaker, their parent, and nothing more.

Right now I am training for a marathon. It has taught me that deliberate, careful planning is everything. Rushing to reach a goal all at once leads to exhaustion, injury, and can often present an unnecessary burden.

Parenting is for the long haul.
Parenting is a marathon.

We start from day one, we build trust. We smile at them, we hug them, we hold them, feed them, change them. When they are four, we begin to expect things from them, ask them to complete tasks, to work with others in a team effort, to socialize appropriately.

When they are ten, we ask them to begin to explore the world around them, to realize they are not alone, and to consider others above self.

When they are 16, we ask them to be responsible, follow laws, and think before they act.

When they are 18, we ask them to make decisions for themselves, take responsibility, begin adulthood, choose their path.

There is so much more to my responsibility as a parent, that gets lost in existentialist parenting. I have had days where I do not want to discipline or  cause my children to be upset because "we have so little time together, why ruin it by doing something as unpleasant as discipline?" I know that in foregoing these important teaching moments for momentary comfort and pleasure, I am shortchanging my children-- a lesson that will last their whole life. One that I may try to instill all at once later, and wonder why they do not master it, and are frustrated with my expectations.

I must always remember that this moment, coming home, being hugged, and seeing my children, is not my life, nor is it theirs. I love it, but it is not everything, and when I think it is, I shortchange my children, and deprive them of the richness of learning how to run the marathon of life.

"Every athlete exercise self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air."
1 Corinthians 9:25-26

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