What better blessing from God than to have the opportunity to raise a child? The opportunity to raise more than one!
Raising children is as hard as we want to make it. Perhaps, if we had not a care in the world what became of our children, raising a child would be effortless, for we could apply little or no effort in guiding our children through their young lives. However, I consider raising children to be work, and I, more often than not, find it to be enjoyable work. It can be fun work, but it still requires a conscious effort on the part of the parents to both provide for and be there for our children. There are so many challenges in raising children that I thought it best to try and describe how much joy it has brought both myself and my wife, Gina, my brother and sisters, and our parents.
It has been said that if not for the pleasure of intimacy, there would be no parents raising children, and I would have to say that I agree. Anyone that has witnessed childbirth can clearly say that there can be much pain associated with the birth of a child, and it is part of God's infinite wisdom that child birth be so wonderful an experience for us to know full well the challenges that lay ahead for the parents. I can think of no more uplifting an experience than to see the miracle of life being given not just to the young soul having been born, but to the parents assigned with the task that is now at hand. Children require immediate attention when they are newborn, and part of our goal as parents should always be to try to give to our children what they need to actually require less and less from us as they grow up. As infants, our children present constant reminders to us of our responsibilities, but it is also an enormous opportunity to allow these little people to bond with us and feel completely confident with us as parents and protectors of their new world.
As an older father, now 50, of one child that has grown up already, I must admit I am enjoying Harold Fink III, age 6, and Robert Fink, age 3, much more now than I would have when I was much younger and trying to raise a child. I am enjoying these days of their lives much more because I know full well that these days are fleeting, that these little people will continue to grow, with God's blessing, into young adults and then be prepared to go on their way. What better gift than to have your child respect you and tell you that they love you or that you will always be their best friend? I must admit I like that our children want to be home and doing fun things with mommy and daddy. Our farm presents lots of opportunities and challenges that young minds find fascinating. Nature abounds before us and is part of God's infinite wisdom in displaying the miracle of life in its many forms. There is no playground or Nintendo necessary. We are on God's playground. Part of raising children is making sure the children have a leader to follow, and there are times when discipline is necessary, but we try to be swift and strategic with exercise of discipline, and know that our children are better able to grow up and be successful in life if they know there are rules to follow.
We also are quite swift with praise and acknowledgement of our children when they display good behavior and a readiness to practice God's given talents. I once had a remarkable man for a boss when I was discharged from the Marine Corps in Hawaii, and this is what I remember him telling me: "It is not your duty as a parent to get your children to do what you want them to do, but instead to notice their natural talents and nurture those talents for them, to allow them to fully use that which they have been gifted with". While that may seem overly simple, and perhaps outright wrong to some in certain moments of raising a child, it is in fact, very sage advice. An example of this would be the proud, demanding parent at the side of the field, commanding Johnny to do better at the plate, when in fact, baseball may not be what Johnny wants to do at all, or better yet, Johnny may not be capable of providing the father with the intended outcome at the plate. I realize there are countless moments when we all must do what we don't really want to do. I am talking more about giving the children enough of life's experiences that it will become abundantly clear to us as parents what it is that God has gifted the children with, and to allow them to pursue a goal or goals which utilize their gifts. This is a challenge to us as parents to try and make time for many, many different life experiences that allow our children to exhibit their God given talents. This can also be quite fun.
Part of what makes anything more enjoyable in life is knowing how difficult it was to get there. Difficulties in raising children include not knowing what to do when difficult behavior is encountered in a child. Well let me say this: "There are lots of perfect parents out there, and most of them have no children". Or perhaps this: "The safest way to never make a mistake in life is to do nothing". OK, so I said it. If you are in an environment where others are there to pass judgement on your child rearing capabilities, remember that no one is perfect. As long as you do not bring physical harm to your children, it is safe to remember that we are human beings completely capable of making mistakes, and I guarantee you that you will feel humbled many times in public with the behavior of your children. The blessings may come in behavior that is quite humorous and make you the envy of those without children, or the blessings may come in behavior that is quite challenging for us, knowing the eyes of all are upon you. So, just remember to pray for God's guidance when you don't know what to do. If for nothing else, pray for the patience and understanding required of a parent when children do not do what we want them to do. Pray for the guidance from God that we may better understand what we must do in better guiding these little people through their early lives, and give us the courage to do what is necessary, knowing full well there will always be someone out there who sees it as a mistake. Part of the blessings that we enjoy as parents in America is the freedom of raising our children as we see fit, within reason, and it is incumbent upon us as worthy parents to provide the most fertile soil for these little minds to plant their own seeds.