Parenting or child-rearing is a process by which to involve more than just hard work, effort, and self-discipline. Every parent must remember that the benefits of every effort expended would ultimately outweigh all the struggles. Becoming a good parent is a work in progress, along with the child-rearing principles put into practice and the sacrifices that were being made, that can only get better with time.
But how could a good parent becomes the best parent? It takes time, I think. I should be taking time, on my part, as a dad to a three-year–old son, for a walk in the park or a one-on-one talk and answer his questions about God’s creation. I should take time to teach him what is right and what is wrong, and to listen to what he might be saying now for tomorrow he may not wish to talk with me.
Never mind if some people, or the world as a whole, would probably never fully appreciate all of the efforts expended in good parenting. At the end of the day, in the final judgement when all will appear as God views it, all parents who have prepared their children for His kingdom would be rewarded by Him. It would be seen that when a child is brought up in the right way, he becomes more than just worth all the efforts expended.
I came across an article written by Bob Blum, who writes from College Place, Washington, United States of America. The title is “Dear Son” which is a father’s piece of advice to his twenty-five year old son, in a letter form, to help him in selecting a life companion. In the letter, the father hinted his son that a successful married life starts with selecting the right mate.
Blum was able to further convince me by providing in his article with a clear blueprint, the foundational stage, of a successful parenting as a direct result of a good married life. Blum suggested that a good parent should be a good husband or wife first. A successful parent, just like a successful marriage, is not synonymous with perfection.
There will always be problems but these problems won’t go away by running away from them or pretending they don’t exist. Even the best of parents are not immune to problems during the child-rearing years, but the heavy burdens they must be carrying can be made light by God’s power. A good parent should be a conscientious person who takes the time to become knowledgeable in parenting skills.
No family can attain happiness without struggles, effort, work and sacrifices. I know I will be messing up from time to time as a dad, too, but instead of beating myself up, accepting my shortcomings as a part of the growth process is the best thing I can do for that matter. Grateful to have stumbled upon Blum’s letter to his son, which was actually a golden piece of advice or the best of gifts every father can give to a son, I would be using exactly the same letter for my son wishing he would read twenty-two years from now to remind him of me:
You have been in my thoughts a lot recently, especially my thoughts about your seeking for a life companion. I know twenty-five seems old still to be single, but marriage is serious business. Many think marriage just happens, like death, and that you have little to do in the matter. Well, wives are not assigned by fate. They are chosen. And by careful choices the quality of marriage can be greatly improved.
It has been thirty-four years since your mom and I joined lives together. And I am still proud to have her as my wife! With all the problems life has brought and all the negative characteristics we each have contributed to the marriage, we would still do it all over again. I hope this will be your experience, too.
Here are a few observations gleaned over the years that might help you in selecting a life companion.
Marry someone who is attractive to you. Someone you are proud to have as your companion. Someone who has qualities you admire. Just make sure they are the qualities that age can improve, not diminish. Marriage is for a long, long time, and life can play havoc on superficial “beauties.”
The catch here is that your opinion on attractiveness changes over the years. What you think is important at age fifteen is often superseded by your choice at age nineteen. And what you rated as a “ten” at age nineteen would likely get a “six” or “seven” rating by age twenty-two. In fact, some of the most important values you will carry with you the rest of your life will be settled in your mid to late twenties. In other words, son, don’t rush into a relationship. You need time to understand yourself first.
True beauty increases with age. Superficial attractiveness can distract good judgement and leave you wondering (too late), “What happened?”
For now it may not seem very important to have a companion who is skilled in home duties. Your dates (I’m guessing) probably revolve around something “fun.” At present, you likely want somebody who is fun to be with, someone who can enjoy the things you enjoy. It is important to have a friend you can really enjoy. But eventually life will take a more serious turn. Laundry piles up. Dirty dishes do as well. Eating out grows old. Balancing the checkbook becomes a chore. And the yard, garage, and car really need attention. At this point “fun” takes second place to “help!”
Having a companion who can share in these domestic duties is a godsend! Your mother’s skills in this area have made much of the drudgery of life a joy. And much of married life is made up of domestic chores.
If children enter the picture, such chores are compounded many times.
Attractiveness and domestic skills go a long way toward happiness in marriage, but are not, by far, all there is. What makes life fun and interesting is not the mundane routines of life, but its surprises, its unexpected pleasures and challenges. Having a companion who can roll with the punches, who can accept change graciously, and who can adapt to the unexpected with a positive attitude is a great plus.
Life is not predictable. Accidents happen. Tragedies occur. Friends fail us. Sickness comes. These are all a part of real life. And they are something we all must learn to cope with—and conquer.
What is your friend doing to prepare for the unexpected? Does she have a savings account? a first-aid kit? a spare tire and jack in her car? Or does she seem to ignore the need for preparedness? If you have a companion who falls apart when frustrated or stressed, then you will have a heavier burden to carry during these hard times, for you will be carrying them alone.
Also observe what she does to or puts into her body when stressed, when circumstances require a clear, quick, responsive brain. Someday you or your children or your future may be dependent on that brain or that response.
Life can become an adventure with the right companion or a heavy burden with the wrong one—or being unprepared yourself.
Your marriage partner is the first to see you in the morning and the last to see you at night. She will eventually know all your failures and shortcomings, your faults and frustrations. There is little that you will be able to hide from her—nor will you want to. She should be your strong tower, your comforter, your inspiration, and your joy.
Watch how your friend acts around those she is long familiar with, such as parents, siblings, relatives, or old friends. She will likely act the same way around you once you become as familiar to her. Is she compassionate, friendly, helpful, understanding? Or does she display a short fuse with Mom, show irritation with a brother or sister, or talk down to her aunts or grandparent?
How does she treat old people, people who cannot contribute positively to society anymore? Does she ignore them or make fun of them? Or does she try to ease their pain or brighten their day? Someday you will be old, impaired, or unable to be the blessing you want to be, and how she treated all these other people may be how she will treat you. Attitudes stick with us for a long time.
Also consider what she thinks about herself. Someday you may be “one flesh” with her. I appreciate knowing that your mom is concerned for her health and well-being, as well as my own. And she intentionally creates environments to sharpen, strengthen, or equip us for real living.
Meekness—power under restraint—is a rare trait in marriages today. Many husbands and wives are wanting the power position, but without the restraints.
I hope your wife will be a woman of power—someone who can wisely override opposing forces and destroy obstacles that hinder progress; someone who can portray calmness and peace when your soul is in turmoil; someone who can touch you in a crowd and you will know it. That kind of power.
And yet your companion must be able to show restraint, to hold back when everything within her shouts to go forward.
The opposite of meekness is pride. “Look at me! I can do it myself. I don’t need your help.” Pride brought hell into heaven, and it can do the same to a marriage.
THE FINAL ANALYSIS
No one is perfect. The challenge will be to choose these qualities that will be the most important and lasting.
Selecting a mate is something we can’t do well on our own. We just can’t see everything. Taking enough time to get to know the other person is very important, and we should do the best we can to also know ourselves.
To select a mate without the guidance and blessing of God is like driving a car without gas. It goes downhill very well. You can steer, slow down, and even stop when you wish. With enough momentum you can even maneuver small hills. You may think you’re really in control. But the problems hit when there is a serious turn uphill, a real life challenge. With God’s spirit filling the gas tank, however, you can enjoy the whole ride!
You are special to us, son.