Every event seems to be taking on new meaning lately. We are nearing the end of our parenting journey-well, the parenting children at home journey. It’s not easy for this mom. I know they deserve to fly, to soar, but boy is it hard to think about a quiet house.
In the midst of it all I find myself thinking about all of the things I had hoped to teach, to share, to impress upon their hearts and minds. My husband and I had to wait what seemed an eternity to have our girls. The pregnancy road was long and hard and brought with it as much sorrow as it did joy. We had a lot of time to pray. We had a lot of time to think about what kind of parents we wanted to be. We also worked in the Youth Ministry at our church so we saw a lot, worried with parents, walked students through frustration and anger with parents, saw great parenting, saw some bad parenting. We took a lot of notes, we spent a lot of time with families soaking up their wisdom. In the end, it boiled down to three things. Three words that captured the core of what we hoped to impart to our girls. Three things we hoped we lived out in front of them. Even now as I look back at our own parenting journey, take stock and think towards the next two years, the final push, the same three R’s are still the main things.
- Reverence: Paul and I have a healthy fear of the Lord and His holiness. Not a brimstone and fire kind of fear, but a healthy fear. We live life with a complete understanding that we serve a Mighty God who is all powerful, all knowing. He is the creator of heaven and earth. He is Holy. He can part the waters, heal the lame. He allows Satan to roam this earth and He has in His infinite wisdom given all of us as humans freewill, the choice to choose whom we shall serve. We want our girls to have reverence for God. Knowing they have reverence helps us to feel more confident that God is indeed Lord of their lives. We want them to see Him as Holy and deserving of their awe, their devotion. No one else deserves that same kind of adoration. Knowing they have a healthy fear of God gives us some assurance that they desire to love Him for Who He is and that an outflow of that love is to do His will, to obey His Word. We also believe that reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and that we desire above all else for ourselves and our girls. (Deut. 4:10, Deut. 6:2, Psalm 19: 9, Psalm 33:8, I Peter 2:17)
- Respect: More than ever we feel this one is important. We have raised our girls to know they must show respect to those in authority, beginning with us, their parents. Yes, we expect our girls to say “Yes sir.” “No ma’am.” We expect them to follow rules and show respect to teachers, coaches, bible study leaders, other parents. We have always told them that if anyone in authority asks them to do anything that makes them fearful or uncomfortable they are to ask to make immediate contact with us. We have always told them if they disagree with authority they are to show respect, share their opinion with us and then we will discuss an appropriate game plan (which often means they just have to suck it up and move on.) By in large we have told our girls there is never an excuse to disrespect another person-even when we do not like their behavior, or their views. This is increasingly difficult in a day and age when most people seem to think their rights out way showing respect, but we believe it is a Christ like behavior. You can respectfully disagree. You can respectfully get angry. Respect is paramount to honoring another individual and their worth.
- Responsibility: We want our girls to know they have been given much. They are blessed to have been born in this country, where affluence abounds, freedom of religion still exists, opportunities are abundant. We want them to know they belong to God and their lives, their choices, their words, their deeds should exhibit that. We set high expectations for their behavior and hold them accountable for doing what they are supposed to do, for carrying out their work (whether school work, athletics, chores, paid employment, volunteer work). We teach them priorities, reminding them they are first to serve God, then family, then church and others.
Even as I type these words I think of lessons yet to teach. I think of the times my husband and I have failed to live out these principles ourselves. Yet at the same time I see these principles being lived out and I know the three R’s have served us well. I know the three R’s have made a difference. I know we will continue to focus on these three R’s.
Reverence, Respect, Responsibility-this family’s formula, our guiding principles.