A parent’s love for their child is expressed in so many ways. From the time a parent finds out that they are actually going to be a parent, we start seeing things differently, thinking differently, planning differently and living differently. All of a sudden our hopes, dreams, plans and our very lives are different. It is no longer about me or us as a couple. It is about us as a family and it is about our child (or children). Our world becomes different & we view the world different.
As our child grows and gets older, the way we view things also changes. Gone are the sleepless nights because our child needs us and can’t sleep, so we sacrifice our sleep to comfort our baby. Gone are the days when everything our baby does is a milestone and remarkable. Gone are the days when that child needs & depends on us for everything. In those early years the way we express our love is through sacrifice, teaching, and nurturing our child. Discipline is a form of love & teaching a baby the meaning of NO is important and challenging. As a parent of a baby it is different because that baby is trying to learn & we understand that it is a process so our techniques are different.
Let’s fast forward to the teen years. Yes, my daughter just turned 16, so I have become an expert in my own rite. Not really, but I can tell u the challenges are totally different. The sacrifices are different, the ways & things we teach are different, the way we love & discipline is different. Also the way the child learns, loves, and accepts or handles our love, teaching, & discipline is different. I have made my share of mistakes in parenting. From being too strict to not strict enough. I have seen parents that are so strict that the child does not respect the parent & actually fears them as well as those that just want to be the “friend” & be too soft & easy on their child. Both are extremes and almost always fail miserably. Also some parents are just concerned about their own comfort & convenience or have to have total control over their child no matter how old that child is. Again, these types rarely work out well for the child. Then there are those that treat their child like a little adult. They don’t understand a child’s brain & emotions have not fully developed yet and that is their job, to teach the child to think and reason properly, respond & deal with emotions. A child needs to learn it is OK to fail, to understand consequences of their own bad decisions, to understand the world does not evolve around them. That is one of the many roles of a parent & for better or worse our children learn from what they see at home and if they are fortunate they overcome our mistakes. Also as a parent we must show our child that when they do screw up, make mistakes, and fail that we still love them no matter what and that part of life is about making mistakes and failing, learning from them and moving on. A parent prepares a child to be a successful, responsible adult and how to handle the things life throws at them on their own, because at some point in time we will not be there to help or do it for them. That is a parents role, that is how we love our child.
The challenge with doing this with a teen is that they seem to push you away, argue, challenge you, not appreciate the things you do or even notice them. As a teen, life is hard due to peer pressure, wanting to be their own person (even though they do not know who they really are yet). They really want your approval, yet will never admit it. They are holding on to their childhood and fighting to be independent and an adult all at the same time. New emotions, friends, dreams, fears, responsibilities and freedoms. These bring new challenges to the parent. You long for those ” “>simplier” days when the sacrifices and things you did out of both necessity and love were immediately gratifying and the affection was reciprocated.
I love my daughter more than anything else. She is a gift from God and the best gift He ever gave me, except His gift, His sacrifice, for all His children, salvation! There are times I’m angry with her, sometimes I do not like her very much or the things she says or does. There are times I do not express my love or seem to enjoy this precious gift, my child. That does not mean I do not love her, it means I am human and need to improve on some things and the way I handle situations.
All this has shown me that I need to enjoy my child, even when, no especially when, I do not feel like it because I’m tired, mad, disappointed or having to sacrifice. So today I sacrificed and woke up at 4:25 a.m. To take my daughter and neighbor to swim practice. She was cranky & tired, I was tired yet happy. For me it means a little more time to be with her, to watch her, to help her, to enjoy God’s precious gift to me. Sacrifice or love. Parents sacrifice because we love our child. Just as God sacrificed for His children. My child has given me a glimpse into how God’s loves His children and how much I am still a child in His eyes!
Thank you Jessica. I love you & enjoy you more than you know, even when I’m angry and we argue, but I also realize as you grow into adulthood, you will understand and will see these years differently also and you will know that both the good times & bad were all wrapped in a parent’s love for their child!