Someone once said, “you’ll never realize the importance of something until it’s gone.” This is true in so many areas of life, especially in parenting. When raising children, the days seem so long but the years seem so short. And as a result, parents often overlook tough questions during the parenting years that they later will wish they had prioritized.
They are tough topics, yes. And while it isn’t easy to think about them, it’s important to address them before it’s too late—especially by asking these three uncomfortable questions.
1. Will any of my children rebel when they are grown?
While there is no way to tell what the future holds, parents instinctively are given firsthand access to the direction of their child’s heart more than anyone else. A parent’s greatest responsibility is not to be a rule-enforcer or a family referee. A parent’s greatest responsibility is to nurture and protect their child’s heart. Because what’s in your child’s heart will determine what’s in your child’s future. We’ve found in our own family that this is hard to track. There is so much being thrown at our kids from every direction that it requires our intentionality to protect their hearts and their futures.
2. Are my children actually learning how to be great spouses and parents?
Have your kids ever looked up at you and said, “I want to be a daddy just like you someday”? I can remember when mine have. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that our children one day will become adults—mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. And what they are learning now is what will shape them into the adults they will become. It is most important to remember that more than our children will become what we say, they will become who we are.
3. Do my children even know how to handle forgiveness, bitterness, and reconciling relationships?
Everyone gets hurt by others. And everyone hurts others. Pain is a two-way street. Learning to deal with it properly is key to living successfully. And one of the greatest ways to set your child up for relational success is for them to see you being quick to forgive, willing to reconcile, and letting go of things that hold you back from your full potential as a person and as a parent. To live successfully, our children must learn how to deal properly with life’s hurts and they need our example and help to know how to navigate their own.
I heard this quote recently: “Our world 20 years from now will be what we have raised our children to be today.” How true. Our parenting has a multi-generational effect, and so we intentionally need to ask ourselves what patterns are we setting for our grandkids and what kinds of traits we want to make sure get transferred to future generations through our children, such as respect, generosity, and faith. Unfortunately, important factors like these can fall by the wayside and be lost forever in just one generation. As you honestly think on these three uncomfortable questions today, here’s a great reminder: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” -Frederick Douglas