I didn’t know it would be this hard. Seriously. It all seemed so glamorous in the concept phase (or would that be “conception” phase). You remember – that giggly euphoria when you and your spouse ponder, plan, dream and smile a lot in anticipation of starting a family. A pre-child naiveté fogs your minds as you cast scoffing glances at someone else’s kid having a grocery store tantrum. But, like all arenas of life, reality has a tempering (and humiliating) effect.
Yes, this is a therapeutic post. Venting is allowed. It’s our blog, after all. But as I process, let me be clear. I love my kids. They are gifted, smart, creative and loving. And even if they weren’t, I would still love them.
What I find most twisted about being a father is that it is a privilege that can feel like punishment. Perhaps some of you dads know what I mean. Amazing moments of fun, laughter and relational fulfillment have come through experiences with my children. Paradoxically, my greatest frustrations and feelings of helplessness have come by way of those same little cherubs. It’s the joy of Christmas Morning and the pain of a root canal at the same time.
Here is a quote I stumbled on today. It’s from J.C. Ryle, a well-known pastor and theologian from the late 19th century:
“He [God] gives your children a mind that will receive impressions like moist clay. He gives them a disposition at the starting-point of life to believe what you tell them, and to take for granted what you advise them, and to trust your word rather than a stranger’s. He gives you, in short, a golden opportunity of doing them good. See that you do not neglect such an opportunity. Once you let it slip, it is gone forever.”
~ J.C. Ryle
The Upper Room, “The Duties of Parents”, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1970], 288, 289.
I like, and dislike, that quote. I like it because it is true. I like it because it reminds me of the heavy responsibility I bear as the father of five. I don’t like it for the same reasons. But, I must live in that tension if I am to be a Christ-like father. God speaks to my heart best when I’m stretched. Unfortunately, I’ve found I’m not very elastic.
God, help me to do my children good. Keep me in tension. Stretch me gently.
Find more from J.C. Ryle on parenting here.