New Parent Series Written From The Heart - Christopher Brock
Proverbs 22:6, NIV “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
As a father of three, I have experienced the change that a child brings to your life. Each time a child is brought into your life it truly changes your life forever. But, there a few moments when your life changes as much as when your first child is born. I am not talking about the feelings you have or the emotions, because each child you have brings those feelings of love. But, I am talking about the practical responsibility that comes with going from having no children to having a child to care for. Suddenly every choice you make and everything you do must now take into consideration the need of that child that has been born and who is now under your care. As much as we like to think that we are prepared for that moment and for that responsibility, there are very few who actually are.
As I look back upon my own experience and decisions, I know that I made some definite errors. The moment my daughter was born I held her in my arms I was completely in love with her. To me, my role as her father was to love her, to bless her, to supply all her needs, and to work to fill her life with joy. I held her constantly, changed her, fed her, talked to her, gave her toys, and many other things. That sounds very good to say and I believe that for most people, they would hear that and agree. But, in the midst of all of the attention and things I gave to her I was neglecting one of the most important things that we are parents have been instructed by the Lord to do, I was not training her. The reality was that, in all my efforts to love her and make her happy, I was also not providing the discipline and correction that I should have been. The result of this was that I very much spoiled her from the time she was born until I began to truly see the consequences of that practice in her life. She now struggles with jealousy, bitterness, and frustration with her siblings and other children and this has resulted in some difficult times and serious lessons for her. As I have seen this unfold I have also felt such a weight and conviction because I know that much of the root cause and responsibility falls back to me.
I am very blessed now because the Lord began to reveal these things to me years ago and since that time, I have worked to change my behavior and the way that I related to my daughter. Going through this process I believe that I have learned one of the most fundamental lessons about being a parent, and in fact about life in general. If our desire is to see others change, we must first change ourselves. When I first began to notice the negative emotions and behaviors that my daughter was exhibiting my first feeling was that I needed to correct her. I needed to work to change her and make sure she started to act and think correctly. But that was wrong. I was actually the one who first needed to change. I needed to change my way of thinking and the way that I treated her. I needed to allow the Lord to transform my mind. The first period of time when doing this was difficult. To go from a parent who spoiled their child to a parents who trained them in truth and love was eye opening because I could see the consequences of my parenting in full. The consequence was the suffering of my child who I loved and the guilt of knowing I held part of the responsibility of putting her in this position. As time as passed however I can see the gradual and continual change that has been taking place. I am now more excited than ever to see how my daughter will continue to grow and what the Lord has in store for her future. I can see her changed and desiring to know more about the Lord and also more about how to treat others with love. In looking back over this experience I would say that for any new parent, I would recommend to take time to truly think through the instructions that the Lord has given to parents. To truly consider the kind of person that you desire for your child to be in the future. If your desire is for them to be a person who loves the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love others as they love themselves, then you must begin to train them in this from the very beginning. Do not allow the temptation to spoil them take over or to fail to teach them the truth in love. I would also say to parents who may be in a situation like I was, where you are beginning to realize that you have made this mistake, do not give us hope. It is never too late to begin to train your child in righteousness. It will take consistency and hard work but if you begin to parent them according to the Word of God, you will begin to see the fruit of that effort. Do not give up because your child is worth every effort!