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“Do you have children or are you a parent?”

“Do you have children or are you a parent?”

People have children yet few are parents.

Do you remember when your 1st child arrived? What did you believe? How did you feel? My mentor Tedd Tripp helped me define this topic for me …

With our 1st child I remember being in our family room of our small little house telling my wife that our 1st born, Natalie would not need me at home for the 1st year. I need to work more now to be home later for the teen years. The teen years are trouble. What a mistake to live for tomorrow instead of today.

My story will show you how I went from having children to becoming a parent. My story will tell you the rewards, the cost and the hope.

My child arrived just the other day.
She came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay.
She learned about life while I was away.

Having children is believing children will be like you.

You believe children will do what you do, think like you think, act like you act and believe what you believe.

You believe all you need to do is produce income, love them and have fun.

Here’s the difference with parenting: Parenting is not convenient, is not placed on a demand schedule and is not making a prince or princess.

“Do you have children or are you a parent?”

Parenting is healthy & appropriate discipline mixed in with finding out what makes your child tick.

Parenting is acceptance, mutual respect, being firm and kind, encouragement, asking good questions, listening, being honest and empathic.

Parenting is being fully present, is worth it and is rewarding.

Imagine teenagers who love to be home Saturday night and why not? They feel accepted, encouraged and free to be who they are even if you don’t agree with their exact methods.

Who better than you equipping your children to stand on their own?

Natalie turned ten just the other day
She said “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
can you teach me to throw?” I said, “Not today,
I’ve got a lot of email” She said “That’s okay”
And then she walked away but her smile never dimmed …

Growing up I was that 10 year old … and for 10 years I made the same mistake.

“Do you have children or are you a parent?”

The benefit of learning to parent is priceless. What about the costs?

Parenting will affect your golf handicap. It may mean your home does not look like a picture out of Better Homes and Gardens. It will impact you career and ascent on the corporate ladder. It affects the type and size of business you can run. It will alter the kind of friendships, ministries and hobbies you are able to pursue. It will modify the amount of time you have for bowling, hunting, TV, shopping or how many books you can read. It will mean that you can’t develop every interest that comes along. The costs are high.

How did Natalie turn out? She is an awesome young lady at 12 yet my mistakes inflicted damage to our relationship.

Dropping her off at summer camp this year there were no hugs for dad.

Who can describe the pain and heartache when your daughter pulls away from you?

(Heavy Pause)

The hope was on the ride down to camp. Full what I have learned. There will be hugs at camp next year. Hope for Dad who spent 10 years having children before he knew how to be a parent.

“Do you have children or are you a parent?”

Caden, 3, walked up to me last week when I was 30 minutes late for work. Time is money and the clock is ticking. “What doing Dad” is all he says. I take the time to show him.

An hour late I step into the yard where Elaina, 7, is waiting … “Dad, 2 minute push” as she takes a ride on the swing.

I make a last round for hugs with 2 hours now gone from the work day. Time lost at work means less money and youthful dreams of status altered as well.

What’s the cost against the benefits? I have been broken as a parent. I have seen the drawn faces of parents who have known the heartbreak of seeing their children fleeing a home in which they have not been understood or engaged.

I have also seen and known the joy of hearing children say, “Dad, I am amazed at how thoroughly I have been prepared for life. I will always be grateful for what you and mom have given me.”

It’s never too late to answer the question … “do you have children or are you a parent?”


2 Responses to ““Do you have children or are you a parent?””

  1. Nice post I like the direction you are pointing towards. I through my own heartbreak and experiences have to agree with much of what you share. I can say yes I am a parent and will say it’s refreshing to come across pages like yours. Two thumbs up!

  2. Love this, Dale! It’s a constant battle for me to maintain a balance lately between working at home and parenting my teens. I’m thankful that I had 15 years of parenting before I took up my full time job– that time was incredibly precious.

    Very thankful that my kids love being home as teens– they’ll always have roots to come back to when they take off.

    Thanks for making me think today!

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