A New Chapter

0This month our family is closing one door and opening several others. My oldest is spending her first summer away from home. My youngest just graduated from high school and is anxious to attend Baylor University in Waco, Texas. My husband and I, for the first time in several years, will not be spending our weekends at a soccer field, a basketball court, a swim meet, or in an auditorium watching dance competitions. I’ll have to say it was all fun at the time and we chose to hardly ever miss an event, for which I am glad to have been a part of the ups and downs. I am excited for my children’s successes and opportunities and look forward to having more free time and time for my husband. However, I’m also really dreading being that term, “empty nester.” I think we’re creating a new nest, not tending to an empty one.

For parents with young children, here’s some thoughts looking back. When my children were younger, all the books on successful child-raising said it was best for one spouse to stay at home with the children. My husband and I have always worked full-time but have always chosen to be involved in the activities of our children. We’ve remained close to our kids and they have done well academically as well as socially. Through it all, I also believe one strong influence in my children’s lives has been providing them with a Christian upbringing, by not only coming to church, but through the interaction they have shared with others in the church, and doing community service work throughout their lives to help remember just how very fortunately we have been blessed. We continue to carry out good Christian and family values in the home as well. And we all sit down together to eat dinner and converse about the day’s events. So, if you are a young family and find that both spouses need or want to work, it’s really okay. Your kids will adjust and probably do some fun things they might not otherwise have done if they were with you all the time, anyway. If you’re a parent that is able to stay home with your children, my deepest admiration is for you as well. I just thought it might be helpful for someone on the other end of raising children to know it all works out whether you work full time or not. And sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your kids just make wrong choices. That’s not your fault, either. The most important thing is to keep them near to God and set good family values so they can make the right choices when the time arises.

I think if there’s any other advice I would offer, it would be to spend more direct time with your kids and less time worrying about if everything will be okay. Everything will be fine. God has that covered.

Dear God, bless the parents of the world. Give them strength to be an example and patience to pull them through the stressful times. Allow them to pour out their love on their children and take time to enjoy all the little things in life. Provide comfort to those parents with sick children and peace to parents with children who are away from home. Amen

Wendy Saathoff

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