“Don’t you believe me, Daddy? Huh, don’t you?” My daughter bats those beautiful brown eyes as she looks up at me with the look that melts a thousand resolves. She is hugging tight her stuffed Rudolph. All of four years, she is filled with the wonder and awe that only young children seem to possess.
Part of me senses that she is developing that trait all fathers eventually discover. The one that makes it so easy to wrap us around their little fingers. At this moment it matters not. At this moment I’d give her the world if she asked.
Fast forward 10 years to new occasions of wants, desires and demands from my daughter. Caught between child and womanhood, the curse of teenage hormones morphs her from cutie-pie to defiant rebel in the twinkling of those brown eyes. What amazing lessons she has taught me!
One of the many things that constantly surprise me as a parent is how little I feel I know about raising children when things are going tough … and how much I think I know when it’s smooth sailing! I’m virtually a parenting guru when everybody is happy. When the kids are behind closed doors pouting, is often when I’m in the valley of despair.
Despite the highs and lows, I’ve discovered that the journey is really rewarding. I’m learning some great things about living. Some of the lessons I’ve learned from my daughter: I can be right—or I can be serene. This, too, shall pass. There will be fights—and there will be forgiveness. Being a friend means looking out for the best interests of others, even when your friend doesn’t see it. Friends are really important. Never lose your sense of wonder. I’m not that different from my children—and my parents. Everybody struggles with peer pressure, even many years after high school.
[An Honest Relationship]
What should be evident from the above is that having children and being a parent is very much like learning to live in an honest relationship with God. No wonder that God came to us in the form of His son. On a gut level, deep down where it really matters, we are touched by this. There is no greater love than parent to child. There is no greater pain than that felt by the rejection or abandonment of this sacred union.
Ultimately we face the same situation that our loving and good heavenly Father does with each of us. We discover that no love is really meaningful unless it is freely given. I cannot force my daughter to love me. That would not be love at all, either from her or from me. Real, true and honest love is freely given and freely received. I readily admit it is bigger than me. I’m incapable of expressing it fully without God’s help; the help that I call grace.
[Bend, Don’t Break]
I’m not sure what the greatest lesson is that I’ve learned from my daughter. Maybe I haven’t been taught it yet. There is one that is very important and carries high ranking, though. It is the lesson that we all need to be “cut a little slack.” Being judgmental, intolerant or unforgiving is relationship poison. It may be a high-wire act to balance on the thin line of discipline and trust, but it is worth it.
There are still days when Kristen will snuggle up next to me on the couch and give me the “don’t you believe me” goo-goo eyes. And I love it! Maybe the best lessons are the ones we learn while trying to teach.
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