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20 Years from Now

I have five kids, but only 2 lived with me as babies (the other three were adopted much older). My two “babies” are almost exactly 18 years apart. So many things changed between baby number 1 & baby number 2. In fact, most days, I’m surprised my first baby survived given our parenting. Imagine that we let him sleep on his tummy, had bumpers in his drop-side crip, and faced him forward in the car seat at one year of age. Speaking of the car, he didn’t even ride in a booster seat past the age of four. No, I’m not a negligent parent. This is how we did things back then. Popular wisdom, parenting books (there were no blogs) and the doctor’s offices all said it was ok. There were no weekly emails to tell me what to feed my baby and how he was growing. No video monitors to keep watch throughout the night. No Pinterest® to help me plan the perfect first birthday party. Oh, and no Amazon ® to deliver diapers and wipes right to my front door. Come to think of it, how did I survive?

It made me realize, most of what is seems so important now will eventually be all wrong. So, as parents how do we focus on the stuff that will always matter? At times, I’m so overwhelmed by all the advice out there I just want to crawl into a cave and leave it all to chance. But somewhere between throwing yourself on the alter trying to get it “all right” and throwing in the towel, I think there are a few things every parent can focus on that will still matter 20 years from now.

  1. This too shall pass, so make it count. In the middle of the toddler years, or feeling like a chauffeur, or navigating the teen years, it can feel like chaos is going to last forever. The truth is, like all parents, one day you will look back and wonder were all the time has gone. Before you know it, your kids will be grown. Every single day is a chance to make memories, to build foundations, to sculpt the relationship that will last a lifetime. Stay present. Enjoy the good stuff in each stage, it will pass quickly.
  2. In the end, it’s relationships that matter. Right now, you may have positional authority over your kids. They have to respond to you, because you put a roof over their heads, food in their mouths, and wifi in their lives. But, someday, they will be independent. When that time comes, what is left of your influence in their lives will be solely based on the influence they allow you. When you focus on relationship, you build lasting connections that will allow you influence in your child’s life forever.
  3. You’re going to mess up, so make your failure count. There is no such thing as the perfect parent. At times, you are going to fail, and not just on the little things, but sometimes on the big things too. When you do, make it count. Show your kids how to admit wrong doing. Show them how to repair relational damage. Show them how to do the hard work of self-reflection that leads to lasting change. Don’t tell them, show them. Apologize. Admit when you’re wrong. Seek to grow personally in your understanding of why you sometimes completely blow it. Make your failure count.

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