A Letter To Parents

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Dear Parents,

I wish I could get this message to all parents.  Unfortunately, the only parents that will probably read this are the ones who probably don’t need to read it.

As parents, it’s so easy to think of the many ways our kids inconvenience us.  Believe me, I have done that.  I have even thought of how much easier life would be without them.  No, I wouldn’t trade my kids in, and I am very thankful for them.  It’s just that some days, you really miss those quieter pre-kid days when you could do things at your own convenience and the only noise you heard was what you made or chose to play on the radio.  Parenting is tough!

Some day — a very soon day — my kids won’t need me so much any more.  Some day, I am going to truly miss the toys scattered across my floor, the piles of laundry on bedroom floors, the stacks of dirty kid dishes, and even those smudgy hand-prints on my windows.  I believe that you will too.  Any parent who is decent will miss these stages that we rush through, “sleep-walk” through, and imagine away because we can’t wait for the next stage that we think will be easier.  The funny thing is we get to the next stage and often find it’s just as challenging but in a different way.  Parenting is work!

Today though I want us to take our eyes off ourselves and to try to see things for just a little bit from the perspectives of our children. 

I want us to also see the joys of parenting.  Parenting is a blessing!

I can’t help but recall the first and only field trip my boys had when they were in preschool.  It was the first and only field trip they would have that year, and it was to a park.  I, of course, went with my two boys, accompanied by their littlest brother.  I loved watching my boys play with their friends.  I wouldn’t have missed that day for anything.  A lot of other parents were there too.  I will never forget though the few little children who sat by themselves on park benches with the most forlorn expressions on their faces.  These were just 3 and 4 year olds.  They wanted their very own Daddy and Mommy to be there, enjoying the day with them.  They wanted their Daddy and Mommy to chase them around the playground, to teach them how to make sandcastles in the sand, to push them high on the swings, to catch them at the end of the sliding board, to laugh and giggle, to cheer them as they played the games for prizes, and to simply smile, letting them know that they are loved.  I remember walking up to this one dejected little boy.  He was sitting by himself on a park bench.  I asked him what was the matter.  His response?  He missed his Daddy and Mommy.  I was so happy I could be there with my kids, but I wished that his parents could see and know that they were missed and wanted.

Sometimes, we wonder why our kids react in anger.  Sometimes, we think they must not want to be with us because they throw a temper tantrum or do the foolish things that children do.  Sometimes, we wonder how much we are appreciated or missed.  When I think about those children, I realize that all kids just want to be loved.  They want the security of having parents who truly care about them and put the kids’ needs before the parents’ own desires.

I remember the one three-year-old little boy whose mother was there at the park for a short time, but then she rushed off so she could return to her T.V. show that she didn’t want to miss.  Her little boy spent the rest of the time, aimlessly wandering around with a dejected look on his face.

Then, there was this year.  It was parent visitation day in the classroom at the kids’ school.  This only happens once a year.  My husband took off work for the morning so he could be there, and I arranged babysitting so I could also go.  The two of us loved sitting with our kids and working on projects with them.  The boys loved having us in the classroom with them and hated to see us go.  My heart went out though to the little boy who stood their all during recess looking down at the parking lot, hoping to see his parents arrive to visit with him.  Parent visitation had ended, and the little boy’s parents never came.  Thinking back to that day makes me cry.  How difficult would it have been for a parent to come and sit with that little boy?  I know that there are some cases when a parent might lose their job if they got off work, but normally there is a way for a parent to get off one morning in a school year to spend time with his or her child.

I also observed how some parents came, which is wonderful, but they seemed so detached, so lacking in emotion and loving expression.  I wonder why the detachment?  Is it because we have absorbed ourselves too much in our own interests, pains, anxieties — rather than in the interests of our kids?  Have we believed the lie that “our children are burdens and keep us from fulfilling our own destinies and futures”?

If I put myself in the place of those kids, I see these little people hurting and longing.  All they want is that loving look, that hug, and those three simple words “I love you” to be spoken to them.

Perhaps, there is a reason for the anger that we hear and the rebellion we see.  Perhaps, it’s not so much because they are rebellious but because their anger is revealing a greater issue — the issue of a hurting heart.  Do we get past the anger to see what is in the hearts of our kids?  Are we willing to invest ourselves in the lives of our kids?

It saddens me when I hear the statistics that one in every three kids is without a dad in the home.  It also grieved me to hear that one of the top 10 things that kids had listed on their Santa list was “Daddy to be home.”

As the recent horrific tragedy in Newtown, CT has reminded us, life is fragile and brief.  We don’t know the hours or days we have left with our kids.  While we still have them to love and hug, let’s make it our goal to do just that.  Let’s make sure that we aren’t the causes of any behavioral issues our kids might have or any insecurities that they are feeling.  Let’s make sure that they and the world know that we love our kids. 

If our kids know that we “have their backs,” it’s likely that they’ll also have ours when it matters.

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