If you ask me for one word I would use to describe parenting it would be the underused word, joy. Last Sunday, I listened to my son have a conversation with one of our fellow church friends. My son told of his adventures on his Make a Wish Cruise. Then he caught both of us off guard by asking our friend if his wife was sick and if that was why she not at church. Our friend answered that, no, she was not sick, but that she was with her grandfather for the day. What struck both of us was the compassion and concern shown by a 3-year-old. Moreover, my son could also articulate his compassion to a high degree which awed both of us. Our church friend is a public school teacher, so it was no mean feat for my son to impress him.
So many times parenting has come down to advice on how to control our children and make them behave. This is important, and I am strongly shaped by Proverbs. It starts with a tender loving concern for the purpose of parenting, to give our children the, “words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young.”
My son has taught me that parenting is a spiritual practice. In my son, who will soon turn 4 years old, I constantly look for the face of Jesus. While there have always been challenges, especially medical ones, seeing him blossom has filled me with pride. I found an op-ed piece in the New York Times about teaching parents the art of parenting which has been profoundly helpful in how we parent Tito. The essay explains how good parenting reduces crime and was filled with advice on positive parenting.
Joy is the key word for parenting.