“Never delegate to someone else the job that belongs to you.”
I once heard these wise words at a conference, and they have impacted me ever since. Initially, this applied to my teaching career. But it has also impacted my work as a parent. God entrusted children to the care of parents, so that we would nurture them and guide them to follow the leading of their Heavenly Father.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
The job of raising our children is not to be delegated to anyone else. Not to school. Not to church. Not to any organization or individual. You are the expert on your children. They need you today and tomorrow, on hard days and on great days, in struggle and in success.
During my years as a teacher, I learned there were many ways to raise children. I knew parents who touched on every detail. They checked backpacks, made nutritious lunches, sent frequent notes, asked the teacher questions, and studied with their child before every single test.
I also knew parents who were stressed and busy. They worked long hours, adored their children, wished for more time, and supported the work the teachers were doing with late night reviews and conversations in the car.
And, sadly, I knew parents who believed that every part of schooling, every bit of studying, every single thing that had anything to do with their child academically, was wholly and entirely the job of the child’s teacher.
Parenting is not a low commitment endeavor. At times, the tasks of parenting can feel overwhelming. The job of raising a child is beyond our own capabilities. When we are at a loss on the best way to move forward, parenting requires that we lean on God and find equipping in his word. We can look to wise Christian mentors and professionals. When we share our burdens we can learn and grow from the wisdom of one another to support us in the parenting role. Parenting requires that we find encouragement in our community.
Children need parents who will support every aspect of their lives by working alongside schools and churches on a daily basis. So, we build a team of people who can come alongside and speak life and truth into the lives of our kids. We connect to teachers and coaches in a positive way, trusting them to do good work and supporting the lessons they are teaching our children. We get to know youth workers and Sunday School teachers, and make ourselves aware of the content they are covering so we can talk about it at home. And when times are tough and we need more help, we do the same with doctors, therapists and experts to lead and support us.
We build a beautiful team. And we help them while they help us, all the while understanding that the job of raising these children is not to be given away. Parenting requires investment in the lives of those that God has entrusted to our care.
As I tuck my four children into bed, I pray over them as they fall asleep. I think about their needs and I remind myself again that this job, however hard it may be, has been entrusted to my husband and me. God does not leave us alone in this task, but he walks with us every step of the way. I pray for God to make me the parent that my children need. May I demonstrate love, yield discipline with compassion, and guide my children to know their Heavenly Father. God promises wisdom to those who humbly ask for it and as parents we crave it. We need God's strength and grace for the parenting challenges that each day has to offer.
We will continue to build our team and we will appreciate and honor the contribution of others toward the growth of our sweet kids. We will thank them often and stay in contact and communicate clearly. Because that is what it takes to do the job we love, and because it's the job we've been given.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra